Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "Indian sporting birds"

See other formats























Author of " The Waterfoiol of India mid Asia," " The Game-Birds of India 
and Asia," ^^ Hoic to Kiww the Indian Waders," &c., dx. 

With over 100 Illustrations from^Hume and Marshall's 
" Game-Birds of India, Burma and Ceylon " 


83a, high street, MARYLEBONE, W. 



Q - V*A— ^ ^ •• 





/■• ■ , 

? V. aJlar Chromci Lilh.lS.Eatton Garden Londo 



India is a remarkable country in many ways, and not the 
least so in that, in spite of a civilization of immemorial antiquity, 
there remains in our Eastern dominions such a rich profusion 
and variety of wild life, even the large quadrupeds, so soon exter- 
minated by civilized man, persisting in considerable numbers. 
This wealth of mammalian life naturally attracts the attention of 
sportsmen, to the exclusion, to some extent, of bird-shooting ; 
yet the opportunities for the latter sport are just as excellent, 
and no country can show such an immense variety of sporting 
birds as India and our other Eastern provinces, while the indi- 
vidual abundance of the species is remarkable, when we consider 
that there is no such systematic war made upon their natural 
enemies as is the case in Europe; in fact, the "vermin," furred 
and feathered, work their will practically unchecked, and to them 
we must add a horde of reptilian villains, snakes, crocodiles, and 
carnivorous water-tortoises and lizards. The native also poaches 
light-heartedly everywhere, though it must be admitted that here 
he is only " getting his own back," as the feathered game is so 
numerous, and so little indented upon by a population largely 
vegetarian, that the comparative harmlessness of humanity to 
the feathered world is ungratefully repaid by considerable 
devastation of the crops in many districts. 

The worst offenders in this way are geese and cranes, but 
ducks do a good deal of harm to the paddy, so that in shooting 
wild-fowl one is often doing actual good to the cultivator, as 
well as getting amusement and food ; moreover, the majority 
of our wild-fowl being migrants from the northern regions where 
they breed, the stock is capable of being drawn on to a very large 
extent. The same remarks apply to the harmless and indeed 
beneficial snipe and golden plover, which, the former at any rate, 
form so great a stand-by of the sportsman everywhere, and to 


most of the sand-grouse, and some bustards ; but care should be 
exercised in attacking the resident species of these groups, which 
need consideration as much as the typical game-birds of the 
pheasant family, under which also come the peafowl, jungle- 
fowl, tragopans, monauls, partridges, and quails. Of these the 
common or grey quail is our only migratory visitor, and being 
excessively abundant and widespread is the only bird of the 
family which is a real stand-by for shooting in the way that the 
various wild-fowl and snipes are. Rails are not usually shot, but, 
as they are regarded as game on the continent of Europe and in 
the United States, and as Hume thought them worth figuring, 
they are dealt with here along with their kin, the moorhens and 
coot. Many of these are also winter visitors. 

But it is of course the pheasants and their allies that are the 
peculiar glory of Indian sporting birds, and though at present 
they play a very insignificant part in sport compared to their 
importance in Europe, systematic protection in the future ought 
ultimately to render them at least the equals of the water and 
marsh birds in this connection. Our Indian Empire is beyond 
comparison the richest of regions in these birds, and is indeed 
the metropolis of the family, including all the finest groups, 
except the turkeys, true grouse, and guinea-fowls. 

Sporting birds are not only of interest to sportsmen, but to 
naturalists they are not surpassed in interest by any other groups 
on account of the frequent points of interest in their habits, and 
the unrivalled beauty of plumage which many of them display. 
The visitations of the migratory species — fluctuations of the 
commoner kinds and occurrences of the rarer ones — are also well 
worthy of scientific study, and much has been learnt in these 
particulars since the publication of Hume and Marshall's valu- 
able work, which has of course been largely indented on in the 
present one, as have also the valuable publications of Mr. E, C. 
Stuart Baker and other contributors to the Journal of the 
Bombay Natural History Society. 

In recording the occurrence of rare birds, it is not necessary 
that the sportsman should be able to prepare skins of his speci- 
mens, or that he should forgo eating them if rations are short ; 
it is sufficient for purposes of identification if the head and a 


wing and foot be dried and if possible treated with some skin- 
preservative — in fact, for very big birds the head alone will be 
enough, and in the case of snipe the tail affords the best character 
for discrimination. 

The scientific names used are those of the " Fauna of British 
India" bird volumes, now the standard work on general Indian 
ornithology, and where a species does not occur in these the 
naming of the " British Museum Catalogue of Birds " has been 
followed. Where the scientific name on the plate differs from 
these the fact has been indicated.^ 

Frank Finn. 

' Errata. — This has been overlooked in the case of the Bar-tailed Godwit 
{Limosa riifa on the plate) ; and the plate of the White-crested Kalij, 
referred 'to in the foot-note on p. 183, is not one of those in this book. On 
p. 205, also,"C'enon/t5 should read Tnujopan. 






... Facing page 







Bronze-capped Duck ... 

... ,, 


Pintail ... 






Common Teal ... 






Clucking Teal 



Marbled Teal 



Andaman Teal 



Pink-headed Duck 

Facing list of plates 


. . . Facing ijage 


Common Pochard 


White-eyed Pochard ... 


Tufted Pochard 


Scaup ... 


Ked-crested Pochard ... 




Smew ... 








Buddy Sheldrake 


Common Sheldrake ... 


White-winged Wood-Duck ... 


Small Whistler 


Large Whistler 


Bar-headed Goose 


Grey-lag Goose 


Pink footed Goose 




White-fronted Goose 


Dwarf Goose ... 


Mute Swan and Whooper 


Bewick's Swan 


Common Snipe and Jack-Snipe 




Pintail Snipe ... 

Eastern Solitary Snipe 

Wings and tails of Wood-, Eastern Solitary, Fantail 

and Pintail Snipes 
Wood-Snipe ... 
Painted Snipe ... 

Black-tailed Godwit, summer and winter plumage 
Bar-tailed Godwit, summer and winter plumage 
Snipe-billed Godwit ... 
Armstrong's Yellowshanks 
Indian Water-Eail 
Blue-breasted Banded Eail 
Banded Crake 

Malayan Banded Crake and Whity-brown 
Andamanese Banded Crake ... 
Spotted Crake ... 
Little Crake 
Eastern Baillon's Crake 
Euddy Crake and Elwes's Crake 
Brown Crake ... 
Sarus Crane 
Common Crane 
White Crane ... 
Demoiselle Crane 
Great Indian Bustard 

Eggs of Great Indian Bustard and Likh 
European Great Bustard 
Spotted Sand grouse ... 
Eggs of Baillon's Crake, Close-barred Sand-grouse, 

Megapode, Painted Snipe, and Blue-breasted 

Banded Eail 
Close-barred Sand-grouse 
Tibetan Sand-grouse ... 
Burmese and Indian Peacock 
Eed Jungle-fowl 
Grey Jungle-fowl 
Ceylon Jungle-fowl 

Nepal Kali] 

Black-backed Kalij 

Purple Kalij 

Lineated Kalij 

Crawford's Silver Pheasant .. 
Fire-back Pheasant ... 
White Eared- Pheasant 

. Facing page 






















. Facing page 








, , 


, , 






















, , 








, , 


Facing Introduction 


Koklass Pheasant Facing page 197 

Koklass Pheasant, Nepal race ... ... ... ,, 199 

Cheer Pheasant ,, 201 

Bamboo Partridge ... ... ... ... ... ,, 221 

Eggs of Western Tragopan, Brown Crake, Painted 

Quail, Tibetan Partridge, Spotted Sand-grouse, 

and Himalayan Snow-cock ... ... ... ,, 223 

Burmese Francolin and Hybrid between Black and 

Painted Partridges ... ... ... ... ,, 23S 

Snow-Partridge ... ... ... ... ... ,, 241 

Eggs of Rain-Quail, Sarus Crane, White-eyed 

Pocliard, and White-cheeked Hill-Partridge .. . ,, 247 

Brown-breasted Hill-Partridge ... ... ... ,, 249 

Charlton's Hill-Partridge ,, 251 

Red-crested Partridge ... ... ... ... ,, 253 

Chestnut Wood- Partridge ... ... ... ... ,, 255 

Jungle Bush-Quail ... ... ... ... ... „ 257 

Rock Bush-Quail , 259 

Painted Bush-Quail ,, 261 

Blewitt's Painted Bush-Quail 263 

Common Quail ... ... ... ... ... ,, 265 

Rain-Quail ,, 267 

Painted Quail ,, 269 

Indian Yellow-legged Button-Quail ... ... ,, 271 

Burmese Yellow-legged Button-Quail ... ... ,, 273 

Nicobar Yellow-legged Button-Quail ... ... ,, 275 

Little Button-Quail ... 277 



Alias hoscas. Nil-sir, Hindustani. 

Althouf:;h mallard are far from being generally distributed 
over our Eastern Empire, as being the wild ducks of the Northern 
Hemisphere generally, and the ancestors of most of our tame 
ducks, they deserve to head the list of typical ducks, being also 
themselves the type of all and exemplifying several points which 
must be referred to by anyone dealing with the group. 

The lovely green head, white collar, chocolate breast, curled 
black tail, and splendid wing-bar of blue and white are so 
distinctive of the mallard drake that little need be said about his 
plumage, which has for the most part a sober pencilled-grey 
coloration, beautifully setting off the brighter tints. But the 
female, whose plumage, as is usual in the most typical ducks, 
is of a mottled-brown tint, is naturally much like several others ; 
her distinguishing mark is the blue, white-edged wing-bar which 
she shares with the drake. This blue ribbon-mark will distinguish 
her from all our ducks but the Chinese grey duck or yellow nib 
{Alias zonorhyncha), which bird has a black bill with a yellow 
tip, and is much greyer in tint, with a dark sooty belly. The 
bill of the female mallard is dull orange, with a large, dull black 
patch occupying most of the centre part ; the drake's is a sort of 
sage-green, sometimes verging on yellow. 

This point is worth mentioning, because when the drake goes 
into undress plumage the colour of his bill does not change as in 
some species at this time. In plumage the mallard in this 
"eclipse" stage is very like the female, but not exactly, the crown 
of the head and the lower back down to the tail being black, not 


streaked with brown. Young drakes assume a plumage similar 
to this for the first feathering, though at first sight all the brood 
look much alike. The undress plumage is assumed after breed- 
ing, about June, and lost about September ; it comes on at the 
time when all the great wing-quills are moulted, so that the birds 
cannot fly for some weeks. This peculiarity of putting on a 
plumage more or less like that of the female characterizes most 
ducks in the Northern Hemisphere when the sexes have a very 
distinct plumage ; it is curious that it is carried in the summer, 
when most birds are in the highest feather ; but the facts that 
it is really a winter plumage in the cotton-teal, and almost so 
in the garganey, and that ducks as a matter of course start 
courting in the autumn as soon as they get their gay plumage, 
suggest that it is really a winter plumage that has had a tendency 
to be shifted earlier and earlier till it is now a summer one. 

Mallard weigh in the wild state in India about two and a half 
to three pounds in the case of drakes, and even up to four ; 
females are about two, and may approach three. Domestic 
ducks in India are not much bigger than this, though they may 
look so on account of their coarseness and loose feathering ; as 
they often resemble mallard in colour it is just as well to be 
careful how one shoots at unusually unsuspicious-looking ducks 
until one is sure they really are wild. 

Wild mallard in India are not as a rule to be expected away 
from the North-west, and even there it is only in the extreme 
end of that region that they are abundant ; and south of Bombay 
they are unknown. As a straggler the mallard occurs all along 
our Northern Provinces as far as Mandalay ; in Cachar, Mr. 
E. C. S. Baker reports it as "not very rare." One wants to be 
quite sure, however, of any given bird being really a mallard 
when it is shot out of the North-west Province ; of course the 
full-plumaged drake is unmistakable, but there are several ducks 
very like the female, the yellow-nib even having the blue wing- 
bar as above noted. As mallard breed in Kashmir they often 
have not very far to come to get to their winter quarters in some 
cases, though many winter in Kashmir itself ; in Sind they are 
very common, and it is only here that hundreds may be seen in 
a flock ; elsewhere the parties are small, and odd specimens. 


where the species is rare, may be found associating with other 
kinds of duck. 

The habits of this duck are thoroughly well known, as almost 
everyone, even if not a sportsman, has had ample opportunities 
of observing the bird in a protected state in parks. It is not 
highly specialized in any way, but a thoroughly robust and 
vigorous bird ; it swims, walks, and flies, with ease and efficiency, 
but in no separate department equals some other species — 
for instance, it cannot fly so well as a gadwall, run so well as 
a sheldrake, or swim so fast as a pochard. It dives fairly well 
to save its life, or in play, but seldom does so to get food ; 
when I have seen this done it has always been by females or 
young birds, never by old drakes ; but the action is a rare one 
even with the other sex when adult. Females, however, are also 
said to be more cautious and cunning in concealing themselves 
after being wounded than males. 

When a pair are together on the water, the drake waits for 
the duck to rise first ; his note, a faint wheezing quaijkh, is very 
distinct from the duck's well-known quack or rather quaak ; but 
though this was pointed out by White of Selborne more than a 
century ago, it does not seem to have been fully realized even 
now that the same distinction of voice applies to a large number 
of the ducks, and that the two notes in these cannot be inter- 
changed, the drake having a large bulb in the windpipe at its 
bifurcation towards the lungs, which absolutely modifies the 
sound and prevents him giving the female call, while similarly 
she cannot imitate his. In the breeding season the mallard 
drake whistles as well as wheezes, and the duck talks affection- 
ately to him in short staccato quacks, with sidelong noddings of 
the head ; he for his part plays up to her by rearing up with his 
head bent down, then dropping on the water and jerking up 
his stern, at the same time displaying by a slight expansion of 
the plumage the bar on his wings. Anyone may see these antics 
among domestic ducks — common ones, I mean, not Muscovy 
ducks, which have very different ways, and are descended from 
the South- American Cairina moschata. 

Mallard, in conformity with their usual unspecialized ways, 
are not particular about the water they frequent so long as it 


affords safety dining time of rest, or food when they are in 
search of this. Thus they will frequent small dirty ponds or 
big open broads ; feed on land as well as in water, and by day 
as well as by night. In fact, I think many ducks are chiefly 
made nocturnal by our persecution ; I rather fancy that the 
mandarin is really the only true night bird in the family, as he 
is habitually very quiet during the day even in captivity. The 
food of mallard is pretty nearly everything : corn, herbage, roots, 
worms, or any other small animal life, berries, acorns, &c., &c. ; 
as long as there is plenty, they are not particular. They are 
themselves almost always excellent, at any rate in India. 

They breed in Kashmir, in May and June, making a well- 
concealed, down-lined nest among ground cover, as a rule ; now 
and then among water-plants, rarely in trees ; the eggs are 
usually eleven and their grey-green colour is well known. The 
ducklings are clad in black and yellow down. The Indian 
native names, besides Nilsir, are Lilg in Nepal, with the female 
form Lilgahi. 


Alias poecilorhyncJia. Garm-pai, Hindustani. 

The spotted-bill might well be called the Indian mallard ; it 
is so like the female of that bird, or rather perhaps like some 
abnormally coloured tame duck, that it would hardlj^ attract 
attention at a distance, the only conspicuous colour point being 
the broad snow-white streak along the sides of the dark hinder 
back, wiiich streak is the outer webs of the innermost wing- 
feathers. Close at hand, several detailed differences become 
noticeable ; the brilliant and characteristic coloration of the 
bill, twin-spotted w^ith scarlet at the forehead, jet-black in the 
middle, and rich j-ellow at the tip ; the bright green instead of 
blue wing-bar ; and the way in which the plumage, pale drab 
speckled with black in the forequarters, gradually shades into 
black at the stern, a style of coloration never matched among 
all the many varieties of the tame duck. 

In young spotted-bills the characteristics of the species are 
not so well developed ; the colours of the beak not being 

>> - s- w _^ ^ 




separated into the definite tricolour in many instances, the 
base being orange and the sides as well as the tip yellow. When 
it comes to the voice, the relationship of the spotted-bill and 
mallard is again obvious at once ; in both the quack of the duck 
and the wheeze of the drake are the same, although the latter 
in the spotted-bill bears the same unpretentious plumage as his 

In weight spotted-bill are pretty much the same as mallard ; 
there is, perhaps, not quite so much difference in the size of the 
sexes in the Indian bird, and the male spotted-bill does not 
run so heavy as some mallard — it is a noticeably lighter-built 
bird when the two are closely compared in life. 

The spotted-bill inhabits nearly all our Empire, but is not 
found in Southern Burma or the islands of the Bay of Bengal ; 
nor does it ascend the hills higher than about 4,000 ft. It 
never leaves our limits entirely, but, like all birds whose liveli- 
hood depends on water, has to shift its quarters more or less to 
secure favourable conditions. In Central India and in Manipur 
it is more common than anywhere else. 

It is not very particular about its haunts, frequenting small 
or large ponds, running or standing water ; but on the whole 
standing water with plenty of cover is most to its taste. It does 
not associate in large flocks like its migratory allies, and pairs 
are commonly found ; a solitary bird will sometimes assume the 
honorary headship of a flock of teal, but they keep apart from 
other waterfowl as a rule. On a few occasions as many as a 
hundred spotted-bill have been seen in a flock, but half this 
number is rare, and small flocks of about a dozen are usually seen. 

The general habits of the spotted-bill are so exactly like those 
of mallard that it is no wonder the two are sometimes confused. 
Like its migratory cousin, the Indian bird flies, swims, walks, 
and dives well ; although it rises with more of a fluster and does 
not get up its pace so quickly, it has the advantage when 
wounded, as it dives very well and hides most cunningly in any 
available cover. Its tastes are as omnivorous as those of mallard, 
and it is a pest to rice-growers at times. Even its nesting-habits 
are similar, as it breeds on the ground in grass or other shelter, 
not in the elevated sites usually favoured by most of our resident 


ducks. The eggs can be distinguished from mallard eggs by 
their rounder form and more buff tinge, not being greenish ; ten 
is the usual sitting, but the full number of ducklings are never 
apparently reared ; in fact, considering the ground-breeding habits 
of the bird, and the abundance of all sorts of vermin in India, 
the wonder is that it is so common at all. It is universally 
valued as a sporting bird, and is as good eating as mallard ; so 
close is the alliance that the two species when brought together 
in captivity interbreed without hesitation. The native names, 
however, keep up the distinction of species ; the spotted-bill 
being called Hunjur in Sindhi, and Gugral as well as Garmpai in 
Hindustani ; Kara is the Manipuri name, and Naddun that used 
in Nepaul. 

Ycllow-i\ib or Chinese Grey Duck. 

Anas zonorliyncha. 

This East Asiatic representative of the spotted-bill has of 
late years proved to occur quite commonly is Assam, and also to 
be found in the Shan States and Upper Burmah. Although it 
never has the red spots at the base of the bill so characteristic of 
the spotted-bill of India, this is not the chief distinction, as these 
spots may be absent in perfectly adult and otherwise normal 
spotted-bills ; I have seen one such in the London '* Zoo," which 
was the father of perfectly normal young when paired to a female 
which showed the spots. 

The most striking point about the yellow-nib is the fact that 
the wing-bar is bhie instead of green, and that the white on the 
inner quills never forms more than a border, and does not take 
up all the outer half of the feather ; moreover, the plumage is 
not so distinctly marked as that of the spotted-bill — although 
there is a very distinct whitish eyebrow — and is much darker 
below, the belly as well as the stern being blackish. The bill is 
apparently rather smaller, and is blacker, the yellow tip being 

The yellow-nib occurs sometimes in quite large flocks — as 
many as forty have been seen together in Lakhimpur — but small 
parties of pairs are commoner ; when thus few in numbers they 


associate with other surface-feeding ducks ; they are wild, like 
ducks in Lakhimpur generally. 

The eggs have been taken in Dibrugarh and the Shan States, 
and are like spotted-bills' eggs, but run smaller. The best 
known haunts of this bird are from eastern Mongolia east and 
through China and Japan to the Kuriles ; no doubt in the 
northern part of its range it is migratory, and it would appear to 
have a longer wing than our resident Indian spotted-biU. 


* Chaulelasmus streperus. Mila, Hindustani. 

Not at all a familiar bird at home, the gadwall is, in the East, 
the most abundant of all the larger winter ducks, and holds 
much the same place in shooting in most districts as mallard in 
the west. The female is very like the female mallard, having 
a similar mottled-brown plumage, but the bar on the wing is 
all white and there is generally a little chestnut in front of it. 
The drake is a very poor creature compared to the splendid 
mallard drake ; his head is of a dull speckly brown and the 
pencilled grey of his body is dark and dull in tone, the only 
striking note of colour being the velvet-black stern. The white 
wing-bar is preceded by a patch of reddish-chocolate. 

Plain as his plumage is, the gadwall drake yet changes it for 
female dress, like the mallard, in the summer ; indeed he goes 
further and changes his black bill for the orange-edged one of 
the female, but the distinct chocolate patch on the wing remains 
to distinguish him. Young males have less of this. 

Gadwall are finer-boned and more delicately framed ducks 
than mallards, and are not quite so large, although they have 
a plump appearance ; the drake seldom weighs over two pounds, 
and the duck does not reach that weight, and may be as little as 
one ; they are generally in good condition, even when recently 
arrived, at which time ducks are apt to be poor after their 
exertions in the long flight. 

Although they penetrate to most parts of the Empire, they 

* Anas on plate. 


are not so widely distributed as the pintail or even the humble 
shoveller, to say nothing of the teal, for they do not visit the 
extreme south of India nor Ceylon, to say nothing of the islands 
of the Bay. They come in about November and may stay on 
as late as May, though March is the more usual month for their 
departure. They are found in flocks of various sizes, and are not 
naturally remarkable either for shyness or its opposite, though 
after persecution they give trouble enough to the gunner. Like 
mallard they rise smartly, and their flight is more rapid, and 
somewhat teal-like both in style and sound. They sit rather 
high in the water, and swim and walk with ordinary ability, 
not infrequently coming ashore to feed ; among the items there 
sought for Hume enumerates small moths and butterflies — rather 
ethereal diet for a duck one would think, especially as so few 
birds have been actually observed eating butterflies at all. 
Water-insects and shell-fish are also partaken of, but the gadwall 
is mainly a vegetarian feeder, especially appreciating w^ild rice 
and paddy, even when half ripe. It is almost always an excellent 
bird for the table. 

Gadwall like a certain amount of cover in the water they 
frequent, but are not particular birds about their habitat ; their 
visits to the rice- fields are made in the mornings and evenings, 
and by day they retire to the broader waters to rest. They 
seem confined to fresh water. Although not bad divers when 
urged by necessity, they do not seem to dive for food; this, of 
course, is what one would expect, but there exists an old state- 
ment to the effect that the gadwall dived freely and frequently ; 
this was probably founded on observation of some unusually 
gifted individual bird. The gadwall's quack is more shrill than 
that of the mallard, and weaker and sharper, and more often 
used, according to Hume. This presumably refers to the 
female ; the male, which is pretty noisy towards spring, has 
a gruff, grunting quack, not at all like a mallard drake's note, 
or indeed like that of most male ducks, though the shoveller and 
clucking-teal have voices of somewhat the same type. 

Gadwall are not only thought highly of by sportsmen, but 
seem to be popular in pond society ; they are found, according 
to Hume, in the company of all sorts of other ducks, and are 


even tolerated by geese, who usually maintain an attitude oi' 
disagreeable exclusiveness. The gadwall drake shows off to his 
mate in the same attitudes as the mallard, at which time the 
sudden exposure of his snow-white wing-bar has a curious 
flashing effect against the dull iron-grej^ plumage. In captivity 
he is a devoted mate, vigorously defending his chosen duck, and 
strictly refraining from aggression towards the mates of his 
neighbours, a virtue not so common among ducks of the mallard 
group as it might be. He is, in fact, the typical, good, stead3^ 
reliable bird of his tribe. Outside India the gadwall has the same 
wide range all round the northern parts of the world as the 
mallard, but it is not always equally common everywhere ; it 
is not, for instance, abundant at- the very far end of Asia any 
more than in Britain. The Bengali name is Peing-hans, the 
Nepaulese Mail, the Sindhi Bard; while other appellations 
are the Hindustani Bhuar and Beykhur. 

Bronzc-cappcd Duck. 

* Eunetta falcata. Kala Sinkhar, Hindustani. 

I quite agree with Hume that the name of " falcated," applied 
generally to this bird, is not English and is misleading ; but I 
cannot follow him in calling it a teal, for its size is so much 
larger than that of any teal, and its afiinities to the gadwall so 
obvious, that that term is misleading also. Indeed, the female 
is almost exactly like the gadwall female, though easy enough to 
recognize if one remembers that it has the wing-bar black instead 
of white, the feet grey instead of orange, and the bill all black, 
not orange-bordered. 

The full-plumaged drake, with his lovely silky-crested head of 
green and bronze, his white neck crossed by a dark-green collar, 
and the bunch of long curved feathers in each wing— it is these 
that are "falcated" or sickle-shaped, not the bird — is at once dis- 
tinguishable from all other ducks. The general plumage is grey 
at a distance, but close at hand is seen to be made up of pencil- 
lings of black and white, as in most grey-looking ducks. The 

* Anas on plate. 


black and yellow tail-coverts conceal the tail, and give the bird 
a very stunip-{!nded look; in fact, in life it is not so beautiful 
as artists make it, but looks thick-headed and top-heavy, lovely 
as its plumage looks in the dead specimen. It is also, in 
captivity at any rate, very quiet and uninteresting. 

The weight of a male is about a pound and a half ; his note 
is a whistle, while the duck has the ordinary quack, five times 
repeated . 

This bird breeds in Siberia and winters in Japan and south- 
eastern Asia, including India ; as Hume very accurately suggested 
it might be, it certainly is connnoner in India than the clucking 
teal, a bird of similar range, although it is certainly one of our 
rarities still. Hume had got no less than five specimens of it 
by the time he published his account in the " Game-birds " at 
the end of the seventies, nearly all of them in Oudh ; but it 
has since been found further east, as far as Upper Burma and 
Manipur. The Calcutta Bazaar is a good place to get it ; one 
of Hume's five came from there, and from 1897 onwards for 
the next four or five years I never missed seeing it, and in 1900 
and 1901 it could fairly be called common. I have seen a dozen 
or more in a good season, but I should say not twenty-five per 
cent, were males. The male in undress, by the way, is almost 
exactly like the female, but has the inner quills black and grey, 
rather like their colouring, when long and curved, in the full 
plumage ; the true sickle feathers, like the Mandarin's fans, do 
not appear till the rest of the plumage is perfect. Fresh-caught 
birds are very wild, and the species is said to be a strong flyer. 


Dafila acuta. Sink-par, Hindustani. 

The elegant clipper-built pintail is at once conspicuous by 
his racing lines among all our ducks, his long neck and long 
sharp tail making him conspicuous either in the air or on the 
water. His colouring is chiefly remarkable for the large amount 
of white, this reaching below from the liver-brown head to the 
black stern ; the upper-parts are of the finely lined grey so 
common among the males of the duck tribe. 

1^ '^■" 



\ ( 




The female, having a much shorter, though still pointed, 
tail, and the usual mottled brown plumage of typical ducks of 
her sex, is less easily recognizable, but she is recognizable on 
close inspection by having the tail feathers marked with light 
and dark cross-bars, instead of light-edged and dark-centred as 
usual, and by having either no wing-bar at all or one, like the 
drake's, of the unusual tint of bronze. 

The drake in undress has at first a very feminine aspect, but his 
tail, though short, is still darker than the female's, and his pkimage 
is rather cross-barred than mottled with curved markings. 

Pintail weigh about a couple of pounds in the case of drakes, 
ducks being about half a pound less. 

They are among the most valued sporting birds in India, 
coming in vast numbers every winter, and spreading all over 
the Empire ; the flocks are seldom under twenty in number, and 
generally contain two or three times that number of birds, while 
hundreds and even thousands may be found together. Although 
so sociable, in some cases flocks ma}' be found consisting of 
drakes alone. They like large pieces of open water with plenty 
of surface weed for their day-time rest, and keep a good look-out, 
being naturally wary ; they do not move till well on in the 
evening, and then go out to feed in all sorts of watery places, 
returning at daybreak to their resting-places. They fly, as 
might be expected, from their slender shape, with very great 
speed, and are considered to be the swiftest of all the tribe. 
The sound of a flock passing is described by Hume as a " low, 
soft, hissing swish," which is quite unmistakable. On the other 
hand, their swimming and walking powers are but ordinary, and 
they dive badly. Their long necks are of great service to them 
in feeding on the bottom with the stern up, and also in reaching 
up to pull down paddy-ears, for they do not disdain vegetable 
food, although chiefly animal feeders, especially eating shell-fish; 
this, however, does not give them an unpleasant flavour, and, 
as a matter of fact, few ducks are so uniformly good. 

In general disposition they are placid, rather characterless 
birds ; they are not even noisy, the drake's note being singularly 
soft and subdued, and very hard to describe ; the duck's quack 
is harsher than that of the mallard or spotted-bill, but she very 


seldom utters it. The drake when courting shows off Hke the 
mallard, but is rarely seen to do so. In fact, though as a 
sporting bird the pintail is unrivalled among the ducks, and has 
few equals among other groups, from the naturalist's point of 
view he is disappointing, in spite of his elegant and refined 

Pintail, like mallard, are found all round the world, but only 
breed in high northern latitudes as a rule ; wild-bred hybrids 
with the mallard sometimes occur, but such have never turned 
up in India. These much resemble rather delicately shaped 
and tinted mallard, but have the tail only curved, not curled, 
the head less richly glossed, and the breast light-fawn, not 
chocolate. This hybrid, by the way, is quite fertile in captivity. 

In Bengal pintail are called Dighans or Sho-lon-cho ; in 
Sind Koharali or Drighush ; Digunch in Nepal and Laitunga 
in Manipur, while another Hindustani name besides Sink-par 
is Sank. 


Spatula chjpeata. Ticlari, Hindustani. 

The long and broad-tipped bill of the shoveller, very like a 
shoeing-horn in shape, and provided along the edges with a comb 
of horny sifting-plates, is so characteristic that anyone could 
pick the owner out in the dark by merely feeling its beak. It is 
therefore unnecessary to go into any details about the plumage of 
the mottled-brown female, but in justice to the drake it must be 
mentioned that he combines the mallard's green head with the 
pintail's white breast, and wings bluer than the garganey's with 
flanks and belly redder than the Brahminy. 

He is, in fact, a very flashy-looking bird when in colour, but 
in undress plumage he is very like his brown mate, but is dis- 
tinguishable by having the blue wing-patch. Even his bill at 
this time changes colour, from jet-black to the olive and orange 
of the female. He keeps his undress a long time, not coming 
into colour as a rule before Christmas. Take away his bill and 
wings, and the shoveller is a rather small duck, only weighing 
about a pound and a half with those appendages included. 


He is also of rather small account from a sporting point of view, 
for though one of our very commonest winter ducks, spreading 
all over the Empire except the islands in the Bay of Bengal, he 
is not numerous anywhere, going in small flocks or pairs, which 
somewhat affect the company of other species. His tastes, more- 
over, are low ; although to be found here and there in any sort of 
watery environment, what he really likes is muddy shallows and 
weedy ponds, and even dirty little village tanks, where stores of 
organic matter appeal to his palate. He is exquisitely provided 
for extracting nutriment suspended in water by his wonderful 
bill, which, as Darwin long ago pointed out, is like the mouth 
of a whalebone whale in miniature ; the principle is the same 
in all ducks' bills, but in the shoveller it is carried to perfection, 
and so this bird seldom feeds by exploring the bottom or foraging 
on shore ; but paddles slowly about, often turning in a circle, and 
bibbles assiduously, finding food where no other duck could 
obtain it. Any sort of food, vegetable or animal, passes muster 
with him, but of course he is no dirtier a feeder than other ducks 
when found in a clean environment ; he simply takes what 
comes first. But in any case he has a bad name as food, though 
I must say I think this may perhaps be exaggerated by a natural 
prejudice against a bird often seen in dirt}* places. This duck 
is not a wary bird, but, in spite of its lazy and slow movements 
on land and water, its small feet and short legs not being suited 
for rapid running and swimming, it is active enough on the 
wing, and will even oblige a flock of teal with a lead. It cannot 
dive much, so is easily captured if winged. 

The note of the male is qimck quucTx, but one does not often 
hear it except when he is courting ; he is dull and stolid then 
as at most other times, simply moving his head up and dow'n in 
a daft sort of way. The female seems to have the ordinary quack. 
Shovellers come into India rather late, about the beginning 
of November, and sometimes spend all the winter in Kashmir; 
they are also late in leaving, staying in some places as late as 
April or even May. One has been met with with a brood in 
Ceylon in March, but such breeding in our limits is doubtless 
quite exceptional. In its breeding haunts, which include the 
north temperate portion of the whole world, it nests on the 


ground and lays nine eggs or so of a yellowish-grey colour. The 
young are very small, hardly bigger than young teal, and their 
beaks are not broadened at first, though rather long, but they 
start surface-bibbling and revolving round and round at once. 

The shoveller is well off for names; in Nepal even the sexes 
are distinguished, the male as Dhobaha, and the female as KJiikeria, 
Sankhar ; in Sind the name is Allpat and in Bengal Pantamuhki, 
while, in addition to that given at the head of this article, there 
are other Hindustani titles — Piinana, Tokarwalah, and Ghirali. 

Common or Grccn-wingcd Teal. 

* Nettium crecca. Lohya Kerra, Hindustani. 

The common teal, the smallest, and one of the handsomest 
and most sporting of our migratory ducks, can be at once distin- 
guished from all the rest by the brilliant patch of metallic emerald 
green on the wing, whence the name green-winged teal often 
applied to it to distinguish it from the blue-winged teal or 
garganey. Except for this wing-mark, there is nothing dis- 
tinctive about the mottled-brown plumage of the female, but the 
drake is a most handsomely coloured little bird, with his chestnut 
head widely banded with green, the cream and black stripes 
on his pencilled-grey back, and the thrush-like spotting on the 
breast. This teal, though with a proportionately long narrow 
bill, is a thick-set, plump little bird, weighing from 7' 7 to 12 
•ounces, with no noticeable distinction in this respect between 
the sexes. 

In the drake's summer undress, which he loses later than 
is usually the case, so that specimens bearing more or less of 
it are usually seen even in their winter quarters here for a month 
or two, he is generally like the female, but has the breast plain 
brown without speckling, and the markings of the body less well 
defined. The drake's note is a whistle, the duck's is a tiny quack ; 
he shows off to her like the mallard, but with a quick, jerky action. 

Common teal are just as familiar in the East during the cold 

* Querqioedula on plate. 





weather as they are in Europe, in fact more so ; they are some of 
the commonest of our migratory clucks, and are certainly the 
most widely diffused, being found practically all over the Empire, 
even penetrating to the Andamans and Nicobars, though ap- 
parently not to Southern Tenasserim. They come in early, many 
arriving in September, and some occasionally even before August 
is out ; but October is, as usual with our migrants, the month for 
the main body to arrive in. 

In the north-west, where they are most abundant, flocks of 
thousands may be seen, but two or three dozen is a usual figure 
for the flocks commonly met with, and even single birds as well 
as pairs often turn up. Any sort of water may hold them, as 
they are content with a very small area, but they like plenty of 
cover, and lie fairly close, so that they afford frequent shots. 
They swim and walk fairly well, but do not come on land much 
for a surface-feeding duck ; their diving powers are nothing 
extraordinary, but they are adepts at taking cover under water 
when wounded, so that where there are plenty of weeds, &c., 
they are hard enough to get hold of. 

Their flight is exceedingly fast, but like most small creatures, 
furred as well as feathered, they are probably credited with more 
speed than they actually possess, owing to the quickness of their 
movements, which has a deceptive effect ; at any rate, the 
shoveller and even the spot-bill, can give a flock of teal a lead. 
Their really strong point on the wing is their power of wheeling 
suddenly, which often proves too much both for the peregrine 
falcon and for the human enemy with his gun. Their feeding- 
time is mostly at night, and the food itself vegetable for the 
most part, though small live things are not despised ; but Hume 
argues reasonably that they must be mainly vegetarians, because 
in the " tealeries " so common in upper India in his day the birds 
throve on paddy and lucerne only, and kept their condition, if 
well looked after, all through the hot weather and rains, when 
they were much valued as food when butcher's meat was 
unattainable. Hume indeed considered that a well-kept captive 
teal was even better than a wild one, and the wild bird is 
universally praised for its excellent qualities ; I do not know any 
bird I like better myself, as there is something about it one does 


not get tired of. In disposition the teal is very sociable and 
fond of its mate ; it is also excessively " cheeky " with larger 
ducks ; I have several times seen a full-winged one which had 
been bred at the London " Zoo " and used to return to visit its 
pinioned comrades, in the thick of a fight with an Andaman 
teal or Chilian wigeon {Mareca sibilatrix), both of them far 
bigger and redoubtable fighters in their way, and I once saw 
another in St. James's Park chasing a female mallard, to her 
great indignation and the surprise of her mate. These teal may 
now and then be found in India in any month of the year, 
but there is no reason to believe they breed there. They are 
found all across the Old World. Some Hindustani names are 
Chota Murgliahi, Piitari, and Soiichnruka ; Baigilagairi is used 
in Nepal and Kardo in Sind ; while the Canarese name is 
Sorlai-haki, the Tamil Killoioai, and the Bengali ones Naroib 
or Tulsia-higri. 


Querquedula circia. Chaitwa, Hindustani. 

The garganey is often called the blue-wing teal to distinguish 
it from the common or green-winged teal ; there is, as a matter 
of fact, no actual bright blue about the wing, but the inner half, 
in the drake, is of a delicate French grey, very noticeable in 
flight, and his white eyebrows are also striking points ; while on 
the water the mottled brown of the fore- and hind-parts, con- 
trasting with the grey of the sides, are characteristic. Except 
for the wing-bar, which is of a rather subdued green, there is no 
bright colour about this little duck, but nevertheless he is a very 
striking bird. 

The female, in her plain mottled-brown plumage, is at first 
sight just like the female common teal, but has not the brilliant 
green wing-patch. The male in undress can be distinguished by 
the lavender and green on the wings ; on the water with wings 
folded he is just like his mate, and he bears his undress plumage 
longer than any other duck, not coming into male colour till the 
spring. The garganey is a slightly bigger bird than the common 
teal, weighing generally about thirteen ounces and even reaching 






a pound. It has a rather shorter beak, and is generally more 
shapely and fashioned like a miniature mallard. 

No duck visits us in greater numbers than this ; in fact, i 
what one saw in the Calcutta Bazaar in the nineties was any 
criterion, this bird is in winter the most numerous duck in the 
country, surpassing even the whistler and the common teal. It 
habitually associates in flocks of hundreds and even thousands ; 
parties of less than a score are uncommon. The large flocks 
are mostly to be found in the north-west, though the bird is 
distributed over India and Burma generally, and is well known 
in Ceylon. It has less predilection for small and weed-grown 
bits of water than the common teal, and is quite at home on 
wide lakes and rivers, where by choice it spends the day. It 
feeds mostly at night, and in some localities destroys the paddy 
by the acre, being chiefly a vegetable feeder, though of course, 
like ducks in general, it does not despise any animal food it 
comes across. In " tealeries " also, it is found to thrive on the 
same vegetable regime as the common teal ; it is never, however, 
quite so good a bird on the table. 

In disposition and style of flight it is decidedly different ; it 
is, as a general rule, nmch wilder, and flies much straighter and 
to a greater distance when alarmed ; the flocks pack very close, 
and as they pass overhead the sound made by their wings — a 
pattering swish, Mr. E. C. S. Baker calls it — is very character- 
istic. They swim and walk as well as common teal, and dive 
much better ; Hume sums the matter up by saying they are 
more vigorous and less agile birds. Garganey are not at all 
noisy birds ; the duck quacks, but the note of the drake is as 
different from that of the common teal as it can well be ; it is a 
sort of gurgling rattle, most unmistakable when once heard. It 
is constantly uttered during courtship, when the bird does not 
rear up like the common teal, but merely moves his head up and 
down like the shoveller; in fact, to this bird all the teal with 
blue or bluish patches on the wings seem to be related. 
Judging from the note, it is no doubt this bird, not the common 
teal, that was the original Querquedula of the ancients — the 
Spanish name Gerceta comes very near this Latin one. Although 
not nearly so common in Europe as in the East, the garganey 


is well known there ; it breeds in small numbers in England, 
where, unlike all our other ducks, it is a summer migrant only. 
It seems never to go into cold waters, though able to bear our 
English winters in captivity quite well. All across Asia it is to 
be found in summer, and is a very conmion species in winter 
from Egypt on the west to China on the east, and even reaches 
Java. It comes in nearly or quite as early as the common teal 
in India ; in fact, in the north-west generally earlier, and in two 
instances has been found breeding in India and Burma, for 
though, as a rule, only a visitor, it may be found at any time 
during the year exceptionally. The breeding records, however 
— one from Oudh and one from Moulmein — only concern the 
capture of more or less fledged young, and an actual nest has 
not been found. 

The nest in the countries where the bird breeds is made on 
the ground among grass or other cover near small pieces of 
water, and is provided with a rather scanty lining of down. 
About eight is the usual number of eggs laid ; they are yellowish- 
white, like those of the common teal, and of the same size. The 
ducklings also are much like miniature young mallard. 

The Bengali names of the garganey are Gangroih and 
Girria ; in Hindustani it is called Kliaira and Patari as well 
as Chaitioa. 

Clucking Teal. 

* Nettuim formosum. 

The head alone is quite enough to identify the drake of this 
rare species ; the throat and crown are black, the face buff, with 
a black line down from each eye as if the bird had been crying 
tears of ink, and a crescent of glittering green curving round 
at the back. There is a vertical white bar on each side of the 
pinkish, black-spotted breast, separating it from the pencilled 
blue-grey flanks, and the shoulders are decked with long hackles 
streaked with black, buff, and chestnut. 

* Querquedula c^locitans on plate. 








The female is much hke that of the common teal, but is 
larger, with much shorter bill in proportion, and a very distinct 
white patch at its base; moreover, the wing bar is mostly black 
and white, with only a narrow streak of green, and this running 
vertically parallel with the white border, not longitudinally. 
The male in undress differs from her in having the lower back 
plain brown as in the full plumage, not mottled. For some time 
after he loses this eclipse dress in the autumn his beautiful 
head markings are much obscured by brown edgings to the 
feathers, although the strange pattern is quite recognizable. 

This teal is not only larger than the common and garganey 
teals, longer-tailed and shorter-billed, but stands much higher 
on the legs, and runs very actively. The loud clucking note of 
the drake, which sounds like mok-mok, is most characteristic, 
and the bird can never hold his tongue for long. lie displays 
in a curious way, generally on land so far as I have seen ; first 
raising his head and erecting the plumage on it, so that it seems 
much larger, and then jerking it back on to his shoulders, 
clucking vigorously the while. 

The clucking teal is an eastern Asiatic bird, for though 
breeding freely in Siberia and sometimes occurring to the 
westward in Europe, its chief winter haunts are Japan and 
China, where it must be extremely abundant, judging from 
the thousands of live birds that have lately been exported to 
Europe and even Australia of late years. At the time of writing 
it is hardly dearer in England than common teal, and the 
dealers have scores at a time. Less than a dozen specimens 
have been taken in India, and these chiefly of recent years ; 
but one was got in the Calcutta Market in 1844. I also got 
the first female recorded there. No doubt this sex has been 
often overlooked, for all the other records seem to be of males, 
and these have been got as far apart as Gujarat and 
Dibrugarh . 


Marbled Teal. 

* Marmaronetta angustirostris. 

The Marbled Teal is decidedly large for a teal, weighing 
about a pound. Its peculiar colouring, which is the same in 
both sexes, is very distinctive, though also very unpretentious. 
It is a mottling of drab and cream-colour, the only approach to 
distinct and easily apprehensible colour-points being an ill- 
defined dark eye-patch and pale grey edgings to the wings. It 
has a very faded and washed-out appearance, but its dark slaty 
bill and feet contrast strikingly with the pallid plumage. 

The pale or cinnamon variety of the garganey which some- 
times occurs has been mistaken for this bird, and so has the 
female mandarin duck ; but neither has the dark eye-patch, 
and the mandarin is not mottled on the back, while the garganey 
is far smaller than the present species, and when albinistic, 
generally has the beak and feet flesh-coloured. 

The marbled teal, as a rule, is only found in winter, and 
chiefly in the North-West Provinces, extending as far as Oudh ; 
it has even strayed to the neighbourhood of Calcutta, but it is 
only really common in Sind, where it may fairly be called 
abundant. It is among the surface-feeders what the white-eyed 
pochard is among the divers, a bird of coot-like proclivities, 
preferring water with plenty of rushes growing in it, and getting 
up, not in flocks but independently like quail ; when on the 
wing also, they fly low and not very fast. They will dive and 
hide under water with the bill out when wounded, and seem 
seldom to come ashore, though they walk w^ell, as might be 
expected from their light build, which they share with the 
Andaman and clucking teals, both good pedestrians. When 
courting the drake jerks back his head on to his shoulders ; his 
note is the usual whistle of teal drakes, while the duck quacks. 
It feeds pretty equally on both vegetable and animal food, and 
again like the white-eye, is not a good table bird. 

Some eggs found in a nest under a babul bush in a salt marsh 

* Querquedula on plate. 











on the Mekran coast are supposed to be those of this bird ; they 
were taken on June 19. The certainly known eggs are cream 
colour, as were these. The ordinary range of the species is 
from the Canaries and Cape Verd Islands, along the Mediter- 
ranean region, and through Western Asia, so that in range, as 
well as colour, it rather recalls a sand-crrouse. 

Andaman Teal. 

* Nettitim albigulare. 

The Andaman teal, although not distinguished by Hume from 
the Australasian oceanic teal (the real gihherifrons) has, with the 
exception of a single specimen recorded from Burma, no doubt 
a windblown straggler, been only found in the Andaman Islands. 

It would, however, be easily recognizable among our mainland 
species, owing to its very dark brown colour, but little relieved 
by the pale edgings to the feathers, and the conspicuous white 
patch on the wing in front of the wing-bar, which marking is 
black, green, and white, the two last colours forming narrow 
central and bordering streaks respectively. Except in yearling 
birds, there is a white ring round the eye, and some older 
specimens have the feathers at the base of the beak, or even the 
whole sides of the head and back of the neck white. This amount 
of white colour takes some years to develop, and I have only seen 
one bird wild killed showing it, but it has appeared sooner or 
later in all captives I have watched, though those bred in captivity 
are without even any white eye-ring at first; just like young wild 
birds in fact. It remains to be seen whether this marking is 
really becoming common among the wild stock from some cause 
we are unaw^are of, or whether only captive birds get a chance to 
live long enough to become white-headed, for that is what the 
tame ones ultimately become, the brown being limited to the 
centre of the crown. 

The Andaman teal resembles the small whistler in many of its 
ways, being active on the water, a regular percher and a hght 

* Mareca gihherifrons on plate. 


liyer, and an inveterate fighter; this it has to be if it must live 
along w^ith the Andaman strain of the small whistler, which, 
judging from a pair we had in the Calcutta Zoo, is even more 
peppery in character than the mainland birds, from which these 
were distinguishable by their smaller size and richer colour. Like 
the whistling teal, also, it breeds either in trees or on the ground, 
the eggs being cream-coloured ; the tree site for the nest is the 
common one, and it is placed in a hole. It is, however, a true 
teal in general characters, though large for such a bird, weighing 
about a pound ; also, though the sexes are alike in colour, it 
has the usual sex difference m note found in the teal, the drake 
whistling and the duck quacking. It is a very active runner, and 
also flies sharply though noiselessly ; during the day it perches 
most of the time, feeding at night in ponds or in the morning 
and evening in paddy fields, but is also found in salt water. 


Mareca penelope. Peasan, Hindustani. 

There seems to be a prevailing idea among people whose 
knowledge of ducks is limited that any sort smaller than a 
mallard and yet obviously too big to be a teal, must be a wigeon ; 
but the real bird, which has only two near allies, both American, 
is quite unmistakable, owing to its small, inch-long, narrow bill, 
which is blue-grey with a black tip, and its unusually long and 
narrow wings ; the belly is also conspicuously white in both sexes. 
In weight it is indeed intermediate between the full-sized ducks 
and the teal, weighing about a pound and a half. 

The wigeon drake is very handsome, his chestnut head with 
yellow forehead contrasting well with his salmon breast and grey 
back ; a large white patch on the wing is very conspicuous in 
ilight. The female's brown plumage is less conspicuously mottled 
than that of other brown ducks of her sex, but the points above 
given will distinguish her easily. The male, in undress is similar, 
but much redder brown as a rule ; his white and green marking 
on the wing will distinguish him in this stage. 

The sexes differ strikingly in voice as well as in plumage, for 
the drake utters what Hume well calls "a whistled cry," pre- 




-I" CO 




sunmbly imitated by the Hindustani Peasan and the Nepalese 
Gheywi; the female growls, but is far less noisy than her mate. 
When in flocks, the frequent " whewing " of the drakes is very 
noticeable, as also the way in which they apparently hump their 
backs, by raising the ends of the wings and depressing the tail, 
this being their display; in the ordinary way wigeon float rather 
high, and are recognizable by their small heads and bills and 
pointed tails. They fly lightly and fast, wheeling and turning 
with ease. 

They are common winter visitors to India, Burma and 
Manipur, but do not penetrate further south than Mysore, and 
in many localities are rather uncertain in their appearance, not 
turning up at all in some years ; in Bengal, from what I observed 
in the Calcutta Market, they are regular enough in their appear- 
ance. Although to a certain extent omnivorous, as all ducks are 
more or less, they are specially vegetable feeders, and have a 
particular fondness for grass, so that they feed on land more than 
most ducks, and especially affect pieces of water with meadow- 
like turfy margins. They frequent salt water to some extent, but 
are not so much sea-coast birds as at home, where they are among 
the chief quarry of the sea-coast gunner, feeding on the sea-grass 
so common on the British coasts. Their table qualities in India 
are rather uncertain, and they do not rank so high in this respect 
as at home. 

It is noticeable that they are inclined to avoid a district in 
abnormally wet years, which at first seems a curious thing for 
ducks to do ; but the effect of too much water is to cut off their 
food supply to a great extent, the shore grass being drowned, 
while the water-weeds are too deeply submerged for surface- 
feeders as they are ; though they can dive well if pressed, they 
do not seek for food in this way as a rule at any rate, though a 
captive bird in France has been known to do so during a flood. 

The wigeon is a high northern bird in its breeding range, 
but is more of a western than an eastern species at all times, 
and now and then strays to North America, where, however, 
the ordinary wigeon is the distinct M. americana. Patari and 
Pliaria are Hindustani names as well as that given, and in 
Sind the bird is called Paroio. 


Pink-headed Duck. 

* Rliodoiiessa caryophyllacea. Golahi sir, Hindusiani. 

The pink-headed duck stands quite alone in coloration 
among our birds. Its body is as black as ink — the brownish 
Indian ink ; its head is as pink as new blotting-paper, in the 
case of the drake at any rate ; the duck's head is like the same 
pink blotting-paper after it has become faded and soiled, with a 
long black blot on the crown. Her plumage generally is duller 
and rnstier than the drake's, and her bill is black, whereas his is 
fleshy-white ; but the general resemblance is close. The young 
are also duller than the old drake, have drab heads, and under- 
neath are of a dirty mottled brown ; but the whole family are 
easily distinguished by the buff tint of the quills of the wings, 
noticeably contrasting in flight with the dark body. Young 
drakes assume the white bill before getting the full plumage, 
and the old ones in undress have the duck's black crown-stieak, 
but otherwise do not change colour. 

The size of the pink-headed duck is about that of the mallard 
or spotted-bill, but it is more slenderly built, the head and neck 
being positively lean, and the latter is generally carried with a 
backward curve. The weight is about a couple of pounds. 

This most extraordmary duck is a resident with us, but 
unfortunately has a very limited range, being practically con- 
fined to certain districts of Upper Bengal, being fairly common 
in Purneah and Tirhoot, and also found in Bhagalpur and 
Maldah ; outside this district it is rare everywhere, though stray 
specimens have turned up as far away from its home as Nepal, 
Delhi, Bhamo, and Madras, which localities about mark off its 
limits to the north, west, east, and south. Latham, writing a 
century ago, said it was common in Oudh ; but even if his 
mformation was correct then, it is as rare there now as in the 
north-west generally. I fear it is getting rarer still, as when 
I was in India in the nineties one could generally see about half- 
a-dozen in the Calcutta Market in a winter, though as much as 
lis. 15 each would be asked for them ; they were kept alive, 

* Alius on plate. 


. ) 


C ) 

1 1 1 

t^ • 

1'IM\-iii;ai>i;i) imjck 

liavirif^ 11 vvfll-kiiovvri vii.liic hh oriiiuiiciitii,! hiids; \>h\, mow, I ii.m 
told \>y riicii<l:. Irom ( !!i,l(;iil,t.;i,, t,li;i,l, ;ui oll'iT of I.'h. 100 per \>\\(\ 
woiilrj prol^iihly produce; not a Hin^'lc. Hpccimcii. YcL not iiiatiy 
huvc vi:;i<;\]i;i\ I'liiropn aliv<: Ho Uir, .'uid notM*, ho far !i,h I know, 
hav(! bred iii (■■,i\)\,\w\ly aiiywlicrc!. 

It in jiikI, poHHihIc, of cours*;, tliii.l, llu; l>irds have not, Ixutn 
ext(JiiHiv(!ly caii^hl, or hIioI out,, bill siiii|)ly " hliycd," as our hlrd- 
catolutrH Hay, hy ^''>'> pfrsist'-iil, ncltiri^', as Uu-y Ix^ar ho lii^'li a 
value;. Ah I HiiJd in niy hook on Indian <luc,kH, f think thin bird 
Hhoidd not \ii: kdlcd Ji.t ;ill ; it would Ix: no loss to tin; i^.'Uiic liHt, 
hc-irif^ a had tahlc hird, ;uid not innii< touk enough (;V(!n in itn 
nu!tro[)oliH to h(; a r(!^'idii,r ohi<:(:t of purHiiit. It is UHually Hccifi 
in HinjiJI parti<!M only, hut flockn of tinrty an; on rf;(;ord ; mituriilly 
in the hiccditi;^' Hcason p!i,irH otdy arn to Ix; H(!<:ri. I''oitun!i,tf'.ly 
th(! IcHialiticH tli(! hirdn mostly nH'ccA, arc out-of-th(:-W!i,y hitn of 
Htandin^' water, well ^.u|)plifd witli rc.c.ilH ii.nd oth<!r cover, ;i,nd 
Hitiuited \t) I'orriHt. The hiid, howfivor, unlike niOHt ol' om 
renidern, <hiekK, in nol, ;i, p< rclur, ;i,nd nests in the liif^h ^riiss, 
Honietnn<;H hundrtidH of y.'irds Irom vv!i,t( r. The eej^n arc; iiH 
extraordin.'U-y as the, hird itHfilf, h(!in^' ho rounded ;i,nd white tlnit 
they look ;ilnioHt like unpolislK^d hilliard-hii,llK. The ninnhei 
laid vii-ricK from (ivct to tvvic*; an m;iny, .'iiifl the rKJHtn conl-iunin^ 
thern arc; rourul and well formed, the materiiiln heinj,' dry ^'raKK 
!ind aTew IViJitherH ; tlu; laying' time; in .June and .July. 

The ordinary hjihitn of thiH duck app(!ar to he enieh the siune. 
aH thoH(! of the Hf)otted-hill, tln.t is to Kii,y, thoHe, oi iui orditi!i,ry 
Hurfae(;-fe(!d(tr ; hut as tli<! hird would !i,ppe,ar to \)('- allied to the 
pochardH, I may mentifdi lh;i,t 1 onee Hfi,w oik; dive as neatly and 
aH lon^' ;i,H ;i, poeli;ur|, though why I e,!i,ntiot nay. I'luj duck han 
f)een H(^en to employ most elahorii.te, ;i fTec,t!i,tion:; of injury to 
decoy idtrudei's from he.f yoini^', ;ind her uolc. was deHcrib(Mi an 
loud f|ua(d<in{^^ I Imve never heiud it, hut the drakc-'n in ii> 
mellow two-Hyll;i,hled e;ill, whieh I have tried to n;fidei' ii,s 
"wu^h-idi," The vvinc-whistle is very eh;i,r;i-ete,ristie, if th*; (licht 
of the hird in ;i.n aviii.ry is ;i,ny ^iiid*' ; it is yet soft, and tfu; 
flieht is (;;i,sy, ;i,nd in th<' open rii,[)id and stronf^. Of th(! colora- 
U()\) of the down of th<; .\oimc ;uid of the drake's disf)l;i,y nothinr^ 
is k'liown ;i,f)p;Mently. 


The bird is thoroughly well known to the natives. Besides 
the Hindustani names of Golahi sir or Golah-lal-sir, it has the 
BengaH one of SaJcnal, and that of Dinnrar or Umar in Nepal 
and Tirhoot. 

Common Pochard. 

* Nyroca ferina. Burar-nar, Hindustani. 

Being the original and typical pochard, this bird, as Hume 
says, really does not need a qualifying epithet; "red-headed," 
that commonly applied to it, is no more distinctive than the 
Hindustani Lal-sir, since both this and the red-crested species 
have red heads. Pochard, by the way, means in French a 
drunkard, and I rather fancy it was applied to this species on 
account of the red eyes, which are a most noticeable feature in 
the drake. We all know the text, " Who hath red eyes and 
carbuncles? Those that follow after strong drink." 

It is true that authors persist in saying the e3^es are yellow, 
but this is really rarely the case in the living male, though the 
eye may turn yellow after death, or even temporarily during 
extreme fright, as when the bird is handled. In females, as far 
as I have seen, the eyes are almost always brown, but I once 
saw a red-eyed specimen. This pochard is a squat, thick-set, 
big-headed duck, with a very short tail, which is not noticeable 
on the water, as the bird swims very low, especially astern. 
The male's pale grey body, contrasting with the black breast and 
chestnut head (which at a distance also looks dark), is very 
characteristic both on the water and on the wing, especially as 
the latter has no conspicuous mark, being grey like the body. 
The female is also grey, but dull and muddy, with the head and 
breast a decided brown. The absence of any white on the wing 
will distinguish her from all the other diving ducks except the 
rare stiff-tail, which is sufficiently well characterized by its 
peculiar beak and tail, to say nothing of other parts. Males in 
undress have the breast grey instead of black. This is a heavy 
duck for its size, weighing about a couple of pounds or little 
under, and showing but little sex difference in weight. 

*Fuligula on plate. 


The pochard is as well known a bird in India as in Europe, 
but only as a winter visitor, ranging throughout the north to 
Manipur and even Burma, but not going further south than 
Bellary. It is very common in the northern part of its ranges 
but comes in rather late, not till the end of October even in the 
north as a rule. 

It goes in flocks numbering at times thousands, but of course 
commonly in dozens, according to the nature of the accommoda- 
tion, the big flocks being found on the big sheets of water. It 
is fond of open water, and may even be found on the sea coast. 
A few feet of depth at least is in its favour, for it is one of the 
finest of divers among our Indian ducks, and gets nearly all of its 
food in this way, though now and then small flocks may be 
found surface-bibbling in the shallows, and in rare cases feeding 
on land. Their gait in this case, as Hume says, is certainly very 
awkward, but in practice they walk rather better if put to it 
than most diving ducks, in spite of the size of their feet and 
eminent adaptation for swimming and diving. They rise with 
considerable trouble and exertion, as one would expect from 
their small wings, and blunder into standing nets in numbers. 
Their wing-rustle is said to be characteristic, as would be 
expected from the quick action necessary in flight to such a full- 
bodied small-winged duck as this is. 

The vocal note is the sound like kurr, kiurr, which takes the 
place of a quack in several diving ducks ; the male has a separate 
note during courtship of a wheezing character. 

This pochard being a near relative of the far-famed American 
canvas-back, it is not surprising to find it a good table bird ; in 
fact, it is the best of the Indian diving ducks, and the only 
one to be relied on for quality among these, except on the 
sea-coast. Its food is vegetable by preference, consisting of 
water plants, rice, &c., with an addition of water snails, which 
are eaten by practically all ducks, and other animal hors d'oemire. 

This pochard is of a naturally tame disposition, but gets 
wary enough when persecuted at all ; and winged birds will give 
plenty of trouble to bring to book, though Hume considered 
them less elusive than the white-eye. However, as he says, 
they are generally shot in more open water. As far as actual 


diving goes I should say the common pochard is really the better 
performer of the two. 

Although a very similar species inhabits North America besides 
the canvas-back, this really has a yellow eye and seems to me 
to be just separable after having seen live specimens ; so the 
pochard may be reckoned as purely an Old- World bird. The 
female is distinguished as Dunbird by English sportsmen, but 
the same native names seem to apply to both sexes. Gheun is 
used in Nepal and Tliordingnam in Manipur. 

Whitc-cycd Pochard. 

* Nijroca jerntginea. KarcJiiya, Hindustani. 

The little bright-chocolate white-eyed pochard is far the 
commonest of Indian diving-ducks, and in winter may be looked 
for anywhere south to Katnagiri and east to Manipur, but it is 
more a northern than a southern bird with us, like all the 

The white eye is only a masculine character, but develops 
early, the female's ej^es being dark grey and not conspicuous. 
Moreover she is not nearly so richly coloured as the drake, being 
especially clouded with blackish about the head. The coloration, 
however, is of the same general type, both giving the impression 
of a small dark duck, showing no white except on the stern when 
on the water, but displaying a conspicuous amount on the wings 
when in flight. Young birds are not rich dark brown, but dirty 
light brown, much like the colour of brown paper, certainly not 
the gingery orange shown in the background figure in Hume's 
plate. In all, the upper parts are darker and devoid of red tinge. 

This is not only the commonest but the smallest of Indian 
pochards, seldom weighing much over a pound and a quarter, 
hixcept in Kashmir, it is only a cold- weather bird, coming in 
late in October. When in residence, they prefer before every- 
thing water w^ell covered with weeds, or with plenty of rushes ; 
just those places, in fact, which other diving-duck tend to steer 

Aythya vyrora on plate. 




clear of. But this species likes cover, and also packs much less 
than ducks generally, half a dozen being a far more likely party 
to come across than half a hundred, exiremely numerous as the 
birds are in certain districts. They also often go in pairs or even 
singly, and in any case have a habit of getting up independently 
like quail, which of course endears them to the sportsman on 
account of the number of chances he gets. The flight also 
resembles a quail's in being low as a rule, and often terminating 
in a sudden stop ; it is fairly fast, though the bird starts 
awkwardly, rather like a coot, which in some ways it resembles 
in habits, just as the goosander does a cormorant ; so distinct are 
the ways of ducks in reality, though people seem to look on them 
as monotonous uninteresting birds. Winged birds are notorious 
for their skill in taking cover and disappearing altogether. 

It must not be supposed, however, that the white-eye is 
confined to weedy water ; it is a most versatile bird, and will put 
up with any sort of aquatic habitat at a pinch, so long as it is 
actually in water, for it does not seem to feed on land. Thus it 
may be found down on the sea-coast or up in the pools of the 
hill-streams, on lakes without cover or even on rivers, and, unlike 
all other diving-ducks, in little stagnant pools. On land, although 
not quick or elegant in its movements, this species seems less out 
of its element than other pochards, as I have known it live well 
in an aviary in the Calcutta Zoo with only a very small tank ; 
but then I have also known even smews do this at home, so 
perhaps it is only an evidence of constitutional toughness. In 
feeding, this duck is particularly omnivorous, vegetable and 
animal food being much alike to it ; it is thought but httle of 
for the table, as a rule, but I could never see why it was so 
much abused ; but then I am fond of ducks generally, as well 
for eating as for observation. The note is a kurr in the female, 
a weak, faint quack in the drake, which jerks back his neck in 
a curve when courting her. 

The white-eye breeds in Kashmir only in our limits, nesting 
late as a rule, for when it was the custom to take wild ducks' 
eggs for sale, this poaching traffic did not begin till June. About 
half a dozen eggs make a sitting, though more occur; they are 
drab or some shade of buff or pale brown. The nest is made of 


vegetable matter chiefly, there being but a small amount of down 
lining supplied by the bird in many cases. It is sometimes 
actually in the water, supported on the weeds, and in any case 
very near the edge. 

Outside India the white-eye breeds through Western Asia to 
the Mediterranean region ; it is really a southern species, rarely 
going north of Central Europe ; in Britain, it is the rare 
"ferruginous duck" of the bird-books. India seems its chief 
wmter resort, as in the case of the splendid red-crested pochard. 
The Bengali name is Lal-higri or Bhuti-hans ; Malac is used in 
Nepal Province and Burtiu in Sind. 

Bacr's White-eyed Pochard. 

Nyroca baeri. Boro Lalhigj-a, Cachari. 

That Baer's white-eye is a very uncertain visitor to our 
Empire, is proved by the fact that Hume and his numerous 
collectors and correspondents never got to know about it. Yet 
the adult is a most unmistakable bird, the green-glossed black 
head contrasting so strikingly with the chocolate breast which 
it shares with the common white-eyed pochard. In fact, except 
for the head, the two are much alike, but an important difference 
is that the white on the belly of the Baer's white-eye runs 
irregularly up on to the flanks, thus showing above the water- 
line, and furnishing a means of distinction, even at a distance, 
from the common white-eye. 

The sexes are more alike in this species than in the 
ordinary white-eye, but the female is distinguishable by the 
presence of a rusty area between the eye and the beak, con- 
trasting with the green of the rest of the head. This, like the 
plumage generally, is less rich than in the drake, but the 
difference is very slight, and it is quite a mistake to describe 
the female's head as simply black. When a bird shows no 
green gloss it is generally small, and probably indicates a cross 
with the commoner species, which is very noticeably the smaller 
of the two. 

So much is this the case, that it is one of the distinctions of 


the young birds, which in this species are dull light-brown as 
in the last, but have a rusty tinge about the face and a distinct 
black shade on the crown which is not found in young common 
white-eyes. The difference is especially marked in the bill, 
which is about half an inch longer in the eastern than in the 
western white-eye ; in fact, the whole bird is longer and less 
dumpy, though the family resemblance is most obvious and 

Even in its ordinary wintering-places in China, the eastern 
white-eye seems somewhat irregular in its occurrence, and little 
is really known about it except that it breeds in East Siberia. 
There has certainly been a considerable winter westward move- 
ment of the species of late years, beginning apparently with the 
year 1896, when it turned up in the Calcutta Market, by no 
means an unexploited locality. The rush appeared to culminate 
in the next winter, the birds then becoming gradually scarcer; 
in 1902, up to December when I left India for good, there had 
been none in ; but about February was about the likeliest date for 
them ; in 189(3-7 they were as conmion as ordinary white-eyes. 
Mr. Baker also got them, after the occurrence of the species 
here was made known, from Cachar, Sylhet, near Bhamo, and 
the Shan States, which is what one would expect, although the 
birds do not seem to have been numerous, as they apparently 
were in Bengal ; he only got three from Burma, for instance. 

Although not recorded on the Continent, the birds even 
pushed as far as England, where two have been shot of late 
years, one at Tring, and one while this book was being written, 
in Notts. The only observation worth recording here I was able 
to make on these birds, of which I kept several alive in the 
museum tank, and got others for the Calcutta and London Zoos, 
was that when kept full-winged in an aviary they rose as easily 
as surface-feeding ducks ; this may mean they escape netting 
much more than other pochards. I may also mention that the 
note and courting gestures of the species are, as one would 
expect, like those of its common ally, and it is certainly no 
better to eat, according to those who have tried it. As con- 
firming the view of those who attribute the abnormal lingering 
of pairs of migratory birds in India to some injury incapacitating 


one partner from migration to the northern breeding-grounds, 
I may, in conclusion, cite the case of an unpinioned male of this 
species I had, which remained in the museum tank for at least 
two summers along with a pinioned pair ; indeed, I never even 
saw him fly, and ultimately I caught him when he was in moult 
and gave him away to go to Europe along with the pinioned 
birds. Of course he and not the pinioned drake might have 
been mated to the female, but even if he were not, he evidently 
did not like to leave his companions, and his constancy rather 
tends to show that flocks of the species never passed over daring 
his stay with me, or he might have been tempted to do so. 

Tufted Pochard. 

* Nyroca fuligida. Ahlac, Hindustani. 

The tufted pochard drake is conspicuous among all our 
water-fowl, not so much by his long thin drooping crest, which 
is only noticeable close at hand, but by his striking magpie 
coloration, black in front and behind and white in the middle ; 
the back, indeed, is black as well as the breast, but the broad 
white flanks are what catch the eye as the bird swims. The 
female is dark brown with a much shorter crest, and seldom 
shows any white above the water-line. 

On the wing both sexes show as small dark ducks with 
nearly white wings, and at a distance may be easily confused 
with the white-eye, but differ somewhat m habits and choice of 
location. Young birds of the year are dull light brown, very like 
young white-eyes, but may be distinguished, if the crest and 
the characteristic yellow eye of this species has not developed, 
by the much shorter and broader beak, especially wide at the 

Although a small duck, the tufted is bigger than the white- 
eyed pochard, being broader built and averaging about half a 
pound heavier. In spite of this, however, it is the most active 
flyer of all the common pochards, getting sharply off the water 

* Fuligida cristata on plate. 









and flying fast and without undue effort. Its ways may be 
studied to perfection within a hundred yards or so of the India 
Ofhce, for in St. James's Park it lives and breeds in complete 
liberty, and specimens visit all the London waters. 

In India it is a winter visitor only, and extends east to 
Manipur and Burma, but not further south in India than North 
Coimbatore. It was very connnonly brought into the Calcutta 
Bazaar in my time, but could not compare in numbers with the 
white-eyed pochard, which was by far the commonest diving- 
duck to be met with there, and commoner than any of the 
migrant ducks except garganey and common teal. I may here 
observe that the light brown colour here attributed to young 
tufted pochards may indicate a special Eastern race, or more 
probably be due to fading under bright sunlight, for those 
hatched in England fledge off as dark as the old female. I have, 
however, seen two young English drakes which had assumed as 
their first plumage the undress plumage of the old drake, which 
in this stage has the white flanks obscured by a plentiful 
pencilling of fine black lines, so that they look a smoky grey. 

In India the tufted pochard is seen in both small and very 
large flocks ; it likes broad open water, and is very difficult to 
■shift from its chosen location on the first day of shooting, though 
after a day's worrying it will not come back to be shot at again 
like many other ducks ! It is a fast swimmer, and as a diver at 
least equals the common red-headed pochard ; its evolutions 
under water may be watched with profit in St. James's Park, 
where it may be seen to go over a lot of ground before rising to 
the top. Sometimes a flock will on Indian waters prefer to dive 
rather than fly, in which case, if one's boat can be pushed on to 
where they went down, they will afford a good many snap-shots — 
at the risk of casualties from shot glancing off the water ! When 
in pairs, the duck rises first, calling kerr as she goes. 

Although it greedily devours bread in semi-domestication, it 
feeds mostly on animal food — water-snails, small fish, and so 
forth — in the wild state, and appears never to feed on shore ; even 
when petted in a park it seldom leaves the water for bread, and 
its gait on land is particularly hobbling and awkward, much worse 
.than that of the common pochard. It is a day-feeder, and in 


spite of its animal-feeding habits is often good eating, though 
too frequently what Hume calls " frogg}'." It comes into India 
early in October and may remain as late as May. It is a widely 
ranging bird, extending to Norway in the breeding season, and to 
North Africa in one direction and the Malay Peninsula in the 
other, in winter. In Hindustani, besides the name given above, 
which expresses the male's pied colouring, it is called Duharii 
and Bohwara, while in Nepal it shares the name of Malac with 
the white-e^'e ; in Sind it is called Tiirando ; Nalla chillmoa 
in Telugu. 


*Nyroca marila. 

The scaup, which in winter-time at any rate is chiefly a sea- 
bird, feeding on shell-fish, has rarely occurred in India, and when 
it does turn up in the wdiite-faced brown immature dress is likely 
to be confused with the young of some of the other pochards, to 
which group it belongs, its nearest ally here being the tufted 
pochard, which is, indeed, called by some writers tufted scaup. 

The old drake and duck, however, are easily recognizable 
close at hand, the former having a deep green-black head, black 
breast, pencilled-grey back and white flanks ; the latter having a 
brown head and breast, but also a grey back, and a very distinct 
white face. The female tufted pochard often shows some white 
here, but always has a dark back. Like tufted pochard, scaup 
have yellow eyes and broad bills, but they are considerably bigger, 
about equalling common red-headed pochards in size. From 
these they can easily be distinguished by the white, which, like 
tufted and white-eyed pochards, they have on the wings. 

The few scaup which have been reported from India have 
turned up in widely separated localities, from Kashmir to 
Lakhimpur, and south to Bombay and Cbittagong. In Oudh it 
would appear to occur fairly frequently, the Rev. J. Gompertz 
having shot eleven between 1897 and 1904 inclusive, as recorded 
by Captain Wall, quoted by Mr. E. C. S. Baker, and other records 
have before been made from the same province. 

Fiiligula on plate. 

'% \\s 






The scaup is a bird of the high north, but in winter is found 
as far south as the Mediterranean, South China, and Guatemala, 
for it inhabits America as well as the Old World. It is not 
difficult to get near, but is extraordinarily tenacious of life and a 
most energetic and rapid diver when wounded ; while when at 
length captured it is not good eating, so that its rarity here is not 
a matter for much regret. 

Red-crcstcd Pochard. 

* Netta rufiria. Lal-chonch, Hindustani . 

The big red bill and bushy chestnut head of the big red- 
crested pochard distinguish him from afar, to say nothing of his 
strongly contrasted body-colouring, black at breast and stern, 
and brown and white amidships ; the black runs all down the 
under-surface, though on the water only the white flanks are 

The female, although with no bright colours, being merely 
brown, with cheeks and under-parts dirty white, is easily 
distinguished from other ducks ; she also has a bushy-looking 
head and in particular a black bill tipped with red. 

The drake in undress plumage hardly differs from her but in 
having more red on the bill — in fact, in some specimens this 
remains as completely red as in the full plumage. 

The red-crested pochard is the biggest of all our diving ducks 
except the goosander, drakes weighing about two and a half 
pounds and ducks only about half a pound less. 

The flight is less heavy and whizzing than that of pochards 
in genera], but the wing-rustle is usually distinguishable from 
that of the common pochard, being louder and harsher. 

These birds are very abundant in many places in India, flocks 
even of thousands occurring, which look, from the bright-coloured 
heads of the drakes, like beds of aquatic flowers ; they come in 
in October and November and leave about April. The big flocks 
tend to split up into parties of a few dozen where there are not 
very large pieces of water, but stray specimens may turn up 

* Branta on plate. 


almost anywhere. What the}' chiefly like, however, are expanses 
of deep, still water with plenty of weed on the bottom, and so 
they are chiefly birds of broad sluggish reaches of rivers and 
extensive lakes and jheels. They are found all through Northern 
India east to Manipur, but do not commonly go south of the 
Central Provinces, though said even to reach Ceylon occasionally. 
They swim fast and dive well, getting much, if not most of their 
food in this way daring their stay in India ; but they also 
frequently feed in shallow water by turning end up, and generally 
behaving like surface-feeding ducks, even coming ashore to feed ; 
and it is a curious thing that in captivity, even on a large piece 
of . water, they very seldom dive, although other pochards 
constantly do so. They are less clumsy in shape than these, and 
do not walk so awkwardly. 

The food is very varied, but more vegetable than animal ; 
water-plants, grass, insects, frogs, and even small fish, all enter 
into their menu. They are generally fat, and are sometimes as 
good as any duck, but may also have what Hume calls a " rank, 
marshy, froggy flavour." They are among the best sporting 
l)irds in India, being wary and shy ; in fact, Hume considered 
them the hardest to get at of all the ordinary quarry of the wild 
fowler in the East. 

They are generally day-feeders, but also feed at night, and 
are commonly siiot at flighting time, though then only in small 
parties. The flocks usually contain both sexes, but occasionally 
males only may constitute a flock. The sexes differ considerably 
in their voice, the drake's note being a whistle — not the same, 
however, as the wigeon drake's ; the duck's call is the usual Jiurr 
of the females of the pochard group. 

The great distinctness of the sexes causes this bird to be 
one of the few with different sex-names in the vernaculars ; in 
Bengali the male is Hero, the female Chobra-lians ; in Nepalese 
the words are different, Dumar for the male and Samoa for the 
female ; the Sindhi liatoha applies to both sexes. 

The red-crested pochard is nowhere a duck of the high north; 
it breeds as near us as Turkestan, and extends west through 
Southern Europe to North Africa. India seems to be its chief 
winter resort. In Britain it is rare as a wild bird, but well 









known in captivit}', in which state it often breeds. The nest is 
on the ground in rushes, and the eggs, when fresh, are remark- 
able for the brightness of their green colour, about eight being 
the usual clutch. 

Stiff-tailed Duck. 

Erismatura leucocephala. 

The remarkable appearance of this duck always attracts 
attention ; it sits very low in the water, often erecting its long 
thin wiry tail, which balances as it were the big head with 
its remarkably broad bill, much bulged at the root. When 
approached it dives in preference to flying, and if it does rise 
does not usually travel far ; the wings are extraordinarily small. 
The plumage is peculiar but not striking, being of a pencilled 
brown, sometimes much tinged with chestnut. The head is 
marked with a lateral streak of white on a blackish ground, 
and the throat is white, the bill and feet slate-colour. At 
least, that is the plumage of most of the specimens which 
turn up in India ; the adult male is a really striking-looking 
bird, with a sky-blue bill and snow-white head and throat, 
set off by a black crown and neck. Although extremely broad, 
this bird is hardly longer than a common teal, and its wings are 
considerably smaller than in that species ; yet the weight must 
be twice as much, and it is a wonder how the bird manages to 
travel at all. The wings fold up very closely as in a grebe, and 
are of a plain drab colour without any mark. The tail is not 
always of the same length, but its wiry character and the 
scantiness of the coverts at its base are distinctive. 

The stiff-tail is a duck of rather unsocial habits and never 
seen in large flocks ; those found in India have generally been 
alone or at most in pairs. They are found on rivers as well as 
in pools, and are probably pretty widely distributed, specimens 
having occurred from Kashmir to the Calcutta Bazaar. Here 
I once got a live one, but this unfortunately had one leg hope- 
lessly disabled, and moreover would not or could not eat, so I 
was reluctantly obliged to make a specimen of it. In spite of 
its affliction it was so tame that it would plume itself while 


being held in the hand. Grebes will also do this, so that even 
in captivity this species retains the grebe-like w^ays which 
characterize it when wild. It may also be mentioned that the 
under plumage, though buff and not white, has the silvery lustre 
of a grebe's. Very grebe-like was the behaviour of a female 
procured at Peshawar by Captain Macnab, I. M.S., in 1899. A 
hawk also tried to " collect" it, but as soon as he made his point 
above, the duck went under, and after coming up close b}^ dived 
again, till after about five minutes the hawk went off in disgust. 
The tail, at full cock when swimming, was straightened out as 
the bird went down. The call is said to be a grating, quacking 
note, and the food to consist of small water creatures and 
vegetable substances. But, as a matter of fact, little has been 
observed about this bird's habits, though it is widely distri- 
buted in a sort of central zone, from the Mediterranean region 
east to our borders. Personally, I believe it breeds in India, 
because a specimen shot near Hardoi was moulting and had no 
quills grown. None of our winter water-fowl moult while they 
are with us, so far as I am aware, while the residents can moult 
at any time they like, having no long journey to take. How- 
ever, one must not forget that it is in its winter quarters in 
South Africa that the common swallow moults. 

The nest in any case is nothing out of the ordinary, being 
built among the waterside vegetation and composed of it ; but 
the eggs are, being remarkable for their coarseness of surface 
and large size in proportion to the bird, though their colour is 
simply white. The ducklings are dark brown in the down, 
with white on the under-parts, conspicuous on the throat and 
sides of neck, and there are some faint white spots on th(i3 upper 


Clangula glaucion. Burgee, Punjabi. 

It is not surprising that this, the genuine golden-eye, should 
be often mixed up by Indian sportsmen with the tufted pochard, 
since both are pied diving-ducks with yellow eyes ; but in reality 
they are quite easily distinguishable even at a distance, for in the 


real golden-eyed drake the breast is white as well as the flanks, 
and there is a great white patch on the face. Even the female, 
whose breast is grey like her back, has a white neck sharply 
contrasted with her dark-brown head, and so is well distinguished 
from the female tufted duck, whose neck is dark continuously 
with the head and breast. 

In flight the golden-eye is distinguishable by sound more than 
any other duck, the very loud and clear whistle made by the 
wings, which have no white on the end-quills like those of the 
tufted pochard, being a most marked characteristic of the species, 
and often giving it a special name, such as " rattle-wing " and 
" whistler." 

There is a good deal of difference in size between the sexes of 
this species, the drake weighing two pounds or more, sometimes 
nearly three, while the duck runs more than half a pound less, 
and looks conspicuously smaller when both are together. Young 
males are very like females, but the old male in undress may be 
distinguished, not only by his much greater size, but by having 
more white on the wing. 

The golden-eye has a bushy-looking head and a very narrow, 
short, high-based bill ; the tail is also very characteristic, being 
longer than ducks' tails usually are. Often, however, it is not 
to be seen as the birds are swimming, being allowed to trail in 
the water, but sometimes they float with tail well out of the 
water, when the length becomes noticeable. On land, where 
they spend but little time, they stand more erect than most 

Golden-eyes in India only appear as uncommon winter 
visitors, as a rule ; but in the valley of the Indus at one end of 
our area and the Irrawaddy at the other, they seem to occur 
regularly, and are also common in the Lakhimpur district, 
frequenting hill-streams like the mergansers, to which, rather 
than to the ordinary diving-ducks, they are related. Indeed, 
this species has been known to produce hybrids with the smew 
in the wild state, and, like that bird, it breeds in holes in treeo 
in the northern forests. 

The golden-eye, however, is found all round the world, nou 
conhned to the Eastern Hemisphere. It goes in winter either 


singly or in flocks, and Mr. Baker has shot one consorting with 
gadwall, and noticed that it flew well with them ; in fact, this is 
the most active f[yev of all the diving-ducks except perhaps the 
smew. In the water it is a fine performer, and catches fish like 
the mergansers, also feeding on shell-fish and water-weeds. In 
diving it seems to slip under, as it were, more neatly than the 
pochards, the fanning-out of the tail being conspicuous as it 
disappears ; and it has been noticed that when a flock are below 
and an alarm comes from above, all the diving individuals will 
rise and make off out of shot, not coming up and giving the enemy 
a chance as the pochards will do. The general character of the 
bird is, in fact, one of extreme wariness, and in this respect it is a 
merganser rather than a true or typical duck. The alarm-note 
is given by Mr. Baker as " a loud squawk," but this is no doubt 
uttered by the female only ; the male's note is different, as is 
the case with the male mergansers, which this bird resembles 
in having a large angular bulb in the windpipe. A peculiarity 
of its beak, unique among Indian birds, should be noticed ; the 
nostrils are very near the tip, further forward even than in a 
goose. As an article of food this bird is highly fishy; but its 
green eggs are esteemed by the inhabitants of the north, who 
put up boxes for it to lay in. 


* Mergus alhellns. Nihenne, Sindi. 

The pretty little smew is at once known from all our diving- 
ducks by its short narrow dark beak ; its quick nimble way of 
rising into the air is also distinctive among this splattering 
tribe, though it often prefers to swim, which it can do at great 
speed, rather than fly. It can swim either high or low in the 
water, and is exceedingly wary. 

The adult male's plumage is very distinctive and beautiful, 
being white below and on the head and neck, except for a black 
patch on each side of the face, like a mask, and a black Y at 
the back of the head, which has a full, though short crest. 

* Mercjfillus on plate. 


SMEW 41 

The rest of the plumage is black, white, and grey, no other 
colour appearing. The weight is about a pound and a half. 
Females and young males, which are much smaller, the male 
not attaining either full size or colour till his second year, and 
much more likely to be met with, are dark grey above and white 
below, with bright chestnut head and white throat, and black- 
and-white wings. They weigh little over the ' pound. The 
short narrow beak and bright chestnut head with pure white 
throat extending well up on the jaws make the name .of 
"weasel-coot," or its equivalent " vare-wigeon," sometimes 
given as this bird's old Enghsh names, quite intelligible, as 
there is something decidedly weaselly about the bird's look. 
In its extreme activity also this little fishing duck recalls the 
smallest of the four-footed carnivora ; it is the fastest diver 
of all our waterfowl, flies with ease and speed, and even on 
land, in spite of the breadth of its body and shortness of its legs, 
to say nothing of its very large feet, moves quite quickly and 
looks far less ungainly than many ducks one would expect to 
walk better. 

In this activity this bird resembles the mandarin duck, w4iich 
also, by dint of sheer energy of movement, is able to hold its 
own with other ducks in departments for which they seem to be 
better adapted structurally. Another coincidence between these 
two pretty species is the fact that they both breed in holes in 
trees ; but the smew is even less likely than the mandarin to be 
found breeding here. So far it is only known as a winter visitor 
to the north of India, from ISind to Assam ; it does not appear 
to go further south than Cuttack, and though fairly well known 
in the North-west is not abundant anywhere. It is generally 
seen in flocks of about a dozen, but pairs or single birds may 
occur. In the case of one such which was shot, the flesh was 
found to be quite good eating, which was rather unexpected, the 
smew generally having a particularly bad name for excessive 
fishiness of flavour. Besides fish, however, it feeds on water- 
insects and shellfish, and even aquatic plants. 

It is a widely distributed bird, ranging all across the Old 
World, though it only breeds in high latitudes. The courtship 
is very interesting to watch, the bird swimming about with the 


head drawn back proudly like a miniature swan, and the fore- 
part of the crest raised, while now and then he rears up in the 
water with down-bent head. 


* Merganser castor. 

The goosander is a fishing duck built on the lines of a 
cormorant ; narrow head, long flat body, with legs far astern, 
rather long tail, and especially long, narrow, hooked beak ; in 
fact, many people on the first sight of one hardly realize it is a 
duck at all. However, its striking variegated plumage is quite 
different from the crow-like coloration of the cormorants : the 
drake is pied, being below white, with the head, upper back and 
part of the wings black, the lower back and tail grey, and 
bright red bill and feet. The head has a green gloss, and the 
under-parts often show a wash of salmon or apricot colour. 

The female is very different, being bright chestnut on the 
head, which in her is well crested ; French grey above, about 
heron or pigeon-colour, and white below ; the wings are black 
and white and the legs and bill red, much as in the male, but not 
so distinct in colour. The male in undress much resembles her. 
The beak, it will be noticed on close inspection, is set with 
backward-pointing horny teeth, and has not the wide gape of a 
cormorant's, and the feet are quite ordinary duck's feet, having 
the hind -toe short ; not large and webbed to the rest like a 
cormorant's, so useful both as extension of paddle and a perch- 
grip. The goosander is one of our largest ducks, the male 
weighing about three pounds, while even four and a half has 
been recorded ; females are generally less. They are usually very 
fat, and, according to Hume, will make a good meal if skinned, 
soaked, and stewed with onions and Worcester sauce, and if one 
has not got any other form of meat or game available. This is 
quite likely to happen where goosanders are shot, as their haunts 
are different from those of ducks in general ; they are birds 
of the hill-streams chiefly, being resident in the Himalayas and 

MergiiH on plate. 




merely moving up and down according to season ; in winter they 
may be found all along the foot of the Himalayas, in northern 
Burma, the south Assamese hills, and even as far south as the 
Godavari and Bombay, where E. H. Aitken once shot one on 
salt water. 

Their food is mainly fish, though they eat other live things 
as well, and in captivity will feed on raw rice freed from the 
husks ; they are extremely greedy, and will eat over a quarter 
of a pound of fish at a meal, digesting bones and all. They 
are therefore not birds to be encouraged where the fishing is 
valued, and there is likewise this excuse for shooting them, 
that they are likely to be appreciated by natives vi^ho, like our 
Elizabethan ancestors, like a good strong-tasting bird. 

Moreover, they are really sporting birds ; they are wary and 
require careful stalking, and when hit are by no means booked, 
as they will dive literally to the death. Mr. Baker records a case 
in which a female, after being hit, managed to keep out of range 
of his boat, propelled by two men, for half an hour, and then 
appeared on the surface dead, having died while diving, game to 
the last. They are naturally fast swimmers as well as good 
divers, and though they often, when floating quietly, sit nearly 
as high out of the water as an ordinary duck, also swim low 
with the tail awash, and when wounded or frightened show 
only the head and neck above water, much like a cormorant. 
They also have the cormorant-like habit of sitting erect on the 
shore, partially expanding their wings, though here again their 
carriage is often level and like that of an ordinary duck. So 
it is when walking, when they look less awkward than some 
diving ducks ; when running on land, and this they can do well 
at a pinch, they stand very erect. 

They resemble cormorants, too, in often fishing in concert, 
forming a line across the stream and all diving together, so as 
to drive the fish before them. Although perhaps preferring the 
stiller reaches and pools, they are at home in the most rapid and 
rushing torrents. They are slow in getting on the wing, but fly 
fast when well up. The note of the drake is a croak like " karr "; 
of the female a distinct quack. 

Although the young, which in the down are brown above, 


tinged reddish about the head and neck, and marked with a few 
white patches, and white below, have been taken in the hills, the 
eggs have not yet been found in India. They are cream-coloured 
and very smooth, and number over half a dozen. The nest, 
well-lined with down, is generally in a hole in a tree or bank in 
the birds' known breeding-places, which extend all round the 
world in the northern regions, the supposed distinctness of the 
American race resting on the most trivial characters. The female 
often carries her young on her back when swimming. It is 
a curious thing that there seems to be no native name recorded 
for this most conspicuous species. 

Red 'breasted Merganser. 

Merganser serrator. 

The red-breasted merganser, which is, like the goosander, 
found all round the world in the Northern Hemisphere, is chiefly 
a salt-water bird when it leaves its breeding-haunts on the fresh 
waters of the north, so that it is not surprising that it should be 
one of the rarest of our water-fowl. It is probable, however, 
that it is often confused with the goosander, as the general 
appearance of the two is very much alike. 

The male of the present bird can, however, easily be 
distinguished by having the under-parts not uniformly white up 
to the green-black head, but the white neck cut off from the 
abdomen by the reddish-brown, black-streaked breast ; on each 
side of this there is also a patch of black-and-white feathers, and 
the flanks are grey in appearance above, being finely pencilled 
with black. Thus the bird looks darker altogether on the water, 
and seen on the wing the coloured breast-patch should attract 
attention. The bird also has a long hairy-looking crest, not a 
short bushy mane as in the male goosander. 

The female is much more difficult to distinguish from that of 
the goosander, but the distinctions are clear enough if carefully 
looked into. The crest in the present bird is short and not 
noticeable, the head itself is dull brown, with hardly a tinge of 
chestnut, the back is mottled drab, not a distinct uniform grey, 
and the white wing-patch found in both species is in this one 


interrupted by a bar of black. The male in undress is very like 
the female, but has a black upper back. 

This species is decidedly smaller than the goosander, but has 
quite as long a beak, which is, however, much slenderer, less 
hooked, and shows more teeth. It resembles the goosander in 
being a greedy devourer of fish, is a fine diver and fairly good 
walker, and is excessively wary, at any rate in Europe. In India 
it has only been got once or twice at Karachi, once in the Calcutta 
Bazaar and once in the Quetta district. 


Sarcidiornis melanonotua. Niikta, Hindustani. 

The comb-duck is often called, even by Europeans, by its 
best known native name of Nukta or Nukica, and the practice 
is one to be commended, as in all cases where a bird is of a type 
of its own and unfamiliar to Europeans. Although to some 
extent intermediate between ducks and geese, the nukta would 
never have been called a black-backed " goose " were the male no 
bigger than the female, since she is obviously a duck ; he, 
however, is quite as big as an ordinary wild goose, weighing 
between five and six pounds, while the female is only about 

In plumage, however, they are much alike, only the female is 
far less richly glossed with purple and green on the black upper 
parts, has the sides dirty drab instead of pure delicate grey, 
and never displays the yellow patch under the sides of tail, 
and the yellow streak along the head, which the male has 
when in the height of breeding condition. At this time his 
black comb is a couple of inches high, but shrinks down to less 
than half in the off-season ; the female never has one, nor the 
young male, till he gets his full colour. In immature plumage 
the birds are brown, not black, but at all stages the combination 
of white belly with dark under-surface of wings is distinctive 
of the nukta among our large ducks. 

The amount of black speckling on the white head varies 
a great deal individually; the whitest-headed bird I ever saw 
was a young male, and he had black on the flanks instead of 


grey, and was thus like the male South American nukta, 
which seems to me, therefore, hardly distinct from ours. The 
African one is now admitted to be the same as the Indian ; no 
other species is known. 

The comb-duck is generally distributed over India, Burma, 
and Ceylon in suitable localities, such localities being open land 
provided with plenty of reedy marshes, and scattered large 
trees ; treeless country the bird dislikes, as it is a perching 
duck and roosts and breeds in the trees ; nor does it care, on 
the other hand, about actual forest. It seldom frequents rivers, 
but may be found on lakes, and in some localities even on small 
ponds. It will thus be seen that its choice of localities is very 
different from that of the geese, while it is not sociable like 
them, being very rarely found in flocks of more than a dozen 
or so, and commonly in pairs. It associates with no other 
duck but the ruddy sheldrake, and that not often, as the two 
birds affect different places ; and unless it happens to be in such 
company, is not so wary as one would expect a large water- 
fowl to be. Most of its tune is passed in the water, though it 
walks as well on land as a goose, and although it feeds freely 
on rice and land and water herbage, it also partakes of water- 
snails, insects. Sec, like a typical duck. The brown young birds 
are good eating, but the adults, though not ill-flavoured, are 
inclined to be hard ; they should be cooked and served like geese. 
On the water the bird sits high with the stern raised, like 
a goose, but both there and on land the neck is carried in 
a graceful curve, and when courting the male arches his neck 
and bends down his head, slightly expanding his wings after 
the fashion of a swan, only much less. The comb-duck swims 
well, and dives vigorously if pressed ; in flight it is intermediate 
in style between a duck and a goose ; the male, conspicuous by 
his size and comb, acts as the leader. It flies and feeds by day, 
retiring to the trees at night ; it is usually very silent, but the 
note when heard is variously described, sometimes as loud and 
goose-like, sometimes as a low guttural quack, or, in the case 
of the male, as a grating sound ; probably only the female has 
the loud call. 

The pair seem nmch attached, and the male acconipanies 



the female in her search of a nesting-site in the trees ; such 
a site is a hole, or tbe place where several large branches 
diverge ; an old nest of another large bird has been used, and 
even a hole in a bank ; and the nest has even been said to be 
sometimes placed on the ground among rushes by the water. 
The eggs are of an unusually polished appearance for a duck's, 
and yellowish-white ; about a dozen are laid, some time between 
June and September. The ducklings in down are brown and 
white above and white below. 

The nukta is as well off for names as might be expected ; 
in Telugu it is Jutu chiUuiva, in Canarese Dod sarle haki, and 
in Uriya Nakihansa ; Neerkoli is the name in Coimbatore, and 
Tau-hal in Burma, though the Karens call it Boickhang. 


Nettopus coromandelianus. Girri, Hindustani. 

The jolly little cotton-teal, smallest of Indian ducks, is not a 
teal properly speaking, and is indeed sometimes considered to be 
a kind of goose ; this, however, is also wide of the mark, and the 
bird and its few relatives really stand very much alone, their 
nearest aliy probably being the nukta. 

In fact, the male's coloration is very much that of the 
nukta drake in miniature, the lustrous green of the upper-parts 
and wings contrasting with the general white hue of the head 
and under-parts and the grey flanks : but the broad black neck- 
lace is very distinctive, as is also the white patch on the pinion- 
quills, only noticeable in flight, but then very conspicuous. The 
female is brown above and shades into white below ; there is a 
dark eye-streak as well as a dark cap, and the neck has dark 
specklings running into cross pencilling below ; she is also like a 
miniature nukta in colour, but the resemblance in this case is to 
the immature plumage of the big bird. On the water she looks 
all brown, and is not conspicuous ; the male, among leaves, may 
also be very unobtrusive, his green back and white head giving 
the impression of water-lilies with white flowers — this is not 
mere theory, for I have made this mistake myself, having at 
first taken the heads of the drakes of a flock of cotton-teal for 


flowers, and not noticed the females at all. Young males are 
like females; old birds in undress differ from them by retaining 
the green-and-white wings. 

The beak of the cotton-teal is very short and goose-like, but 
the tail is long for a duck's, and the bird, when nervous, 
frequently wags it with a quick quivering action. The legs are 
short and the feet large, and the birds swim and dive well, often 
diving on alarm ; they do not, I think, regularly dive for food, 
judging from their hesitation when they do so. 

Cotton-teal are found over the Empire generally in well 
watered and wooded districts ; they are naturally therefore not 
to be found in the dry parts of the North-west. 

The district where the species is most numerous is Bengal, 
where it is called Ghangarial or Ghangani, but it penetrates 
even to the Andamans and is well known in Ceylon. 

It likes weedy places, and small rather than large pieces of 
water, and may be found even on wayside ditches, and bush- 
surrounded pits ; it is generally seen in pairs or small parties of 
less than a dozen, though Mr. E. C. S. Baker has seen as many 
as a hundred in a flock. Its flight is very fast, and at the same 
time it is an adept at twisting and dodging ; Hume never saw it 
taken by the great foe of water-fowl, the peregrine falcon, the 
tiny duck side-skidding from the stoop most dexterously, and 
being below water before the enemy had recovered itself. The 
flight is generally low, but when thoroughly frightened the 
birds will go higher. 

The only weak point of the cotton-teal, in fact, is its walking 
powers ; it is very seldom seen on land, and when it tries to go fast 
or to turn round is apt to fall down ; but it is not correct to say it 
cannot walk at all, as when not hurried it moves on land like 
other ducks, though slowly and clumsily. This leg-weakness is 
curious, as it is a perching-bird, roosting and building in trees, 
so that one would expect it to be at least as strong in the legs as 
other water-fowl, the perchers being usually good walkers also. 

The food of the cotton-teal is mainly vegetable ; it seems to 
feed almost entirely on the surface, and pecks rather than 
bibbles in the usual duck fashion ; it does not stand on its bead 
and investigate the bottom like other ducks. As food it is no 









better than a coiumon house-pigeon, and as it is so very small, 
only weighing about ten ounces, and is very tame in many 
places, it is commonly thought hardly worth shooting, besides 
which it is such a nice little bird that shooting it is rather like 
firing at a robin or a squirrel ; it does not seem right to make 
game of it. The breeding season does not begin before the end 
of June, and lasts till August ; the birds moult after this, and 
the drake has his undress plumage in the winter, unlike most 
other ducks. Holes in buildings as well as holes in trees may be 
utilized for nesting, and there is reason to believe that the 
parents, at any rate the female, carry down the little brown and 
white ducklings like the whistler. The eggs are like miniature 
nukta's eggs, remarkable for their smoothness and yellowish- 
white colour; ten is the usual number of the sitting. 

The note of the male is one of the noteworthy peculiarities of 
this pretty little creature ; he often calls on the wing, his 
peculiar cackle being imitated by several native names, such as 
Lerriget-perriget or Merom-derehet among the Kols, and the 
Burmese Kalagat. The Uriya name is Dandana, and Gurgurra 
is used in Hindustani as well as Glrri, Girria, or Gurja. 

East of India this bird ranges to Celebes and China and 
reappears as a slightly larger but otherwise indistinguishable 
race, as far off as Australia. 

Mandarin Duck. 

Mx galericulata. 

Except for one specimen shot by Mr. A. Stevens on the 
Dibru Eiver in Assam, and recorded by Mr. E. C. S. Baker in 
his book on Indian Ducks, no Indian-killed example of this 
beautiful East Asiatic duck is on record, though there is evi- 
dence that others have been seen, and even in one case shot. 
These were all females like the one preserved, or males either 
in young or undress plumage, and therefore in plumage closely 
resembling that of the female ; and in this species the resem- 
blance is extraordinarily close in such specimens. 

Thus the mandarin in India has so far appeared as a small 
brown duck, rather less in size than a wigeon, with a long tail 


for a duck, pointed wings with pinion-qiiills edged with silver- 
grey and tipped with steel-blue, and a very small beak and large 
eyes. The upper-parts have no markings of any sort, and the 
abdomen is pure white, but the breast and sides are mottled 
with brown and buff. The head is greyish and crested, the male 
having more grey tint and less crest than the female, which also 
has a narrow white ring round the eyes. The male's feet are 
orange, the female's olive. 

In full plumage the drake is well known to everyone who 
takes any interest in waterfowl ; the orange-chestnut fans in his 
wings are unique, and one of these feathers would be enough as 
a record of the species ; he also has an orange ruff of hackles, 
and an enormous crest of copper, green, and white, besides 
showing many other sharply contrasted colours in his plumage, 
and possessing a bill of the brightest pink-red or cerise. This 
duck is well known in captivity in India as well as in Europe, 
being exported from China. Here it breeds, as also in Japan 
and Amoorland ; it nests in holes in trees, and spends much 
time in them, being a thorough wood-duck and a regular 
percher. The notes of the sexes are quaint; the drake snorts 
and the duck sneezes ! 

The mandarin is quick and active in its movements in 
walking, swimming, and flying ; and, although feeding much on 
land, where it often grazes like a wigeon, or searches for acorns 
in woods, it nevertheless dives for food occasionally, and is more 
active under water than almost any surface duck. It is poor 
eating, and not a bird to shoot more specimens of than can be 
avoided, owing to its beauty and interesting habits. 

It only goes in small flocks and does not seem to be an 
object of sport anywhere. 

Ruddy Sheldrake. 

Casarca rutila. Chakioa, Hindustani. 

This showy spoil-sport, so conspicuous in its foxy-red 
plumage on laud or water, and, if anything, more striking in 
flight, with its broad slowly -beating black-and-white wings 
making it tri-coloured, is a bird that cannot be overlooked where 


it is found, and it occiu's all over oui* Indian Empire except in 
the extreme south of India and Ceylon, where it is rare, 
Tenasserim, and the islands of the Bay of Bengal. It is a 
winter visitor in the plains, but breeds in the Himalayas. 

Even if it were not so conspicuous by its colouring — and one 
gets the full benefit of this by its habit of frequenting the most 
open places — its voice would make its presence known every- 
where, especially as it is seldom silent for long, and even when 
conversing with its beloved mate and unalarmed, has no idea 
of lowering its trumpet tones, which have something very 
stirring and picturesque about them. 

There is no noticeable difference in the trumpeting call of 
the sexes, and their colour also looks alike at a little distance; 
but on close inspection it will be seen that the female has a 
white face, contrasting with the buff of the rest of the head, 
which is in both sexes much lighter than the body as a rule. 
The male also has in some cases a black collar round the neck, 
which is supposed to be assumed in summer and lost in winter, 
though in captive birds, at any rate, and probably often in wild 
ones, the reverse may be the case. Many birds of this species 
in India are very washed-out in colour, no doubt owing to 
bleaching, since in England, where the bird is a familiar 
favourite on ornamental waters, they are always of the beautiful 
auburn or chestnut tint. 

The Brahminy duck, to give this species the name by which 
it is usually known in India, is a lover of sandy shores and clear 
open water, and prefers the banks of rivers to any other haunt, 
being usually seen in pairs. It keeps more on the land than in 
the water, walking with an upright carriage and very gracefully ; 
when it does swim it is with the stern high like a goose, and its 
diving powers are rather limited. It seems to be chiefly an 
animal feeder in India, devouring small shell-fish and other 
forms of animal life to be found along the water's edge ; it has 
even the reputation, apparently justified in some cases, of eating 
carrion ; but it admittedly feeds on grain, grass and young corn 
as well even in India, and in our London parks seems to graze 
nearly as much as a goose, though there it spends an abnormal 
amount of its time in the water, no doubt because being pinioned 
it cannot fly about. 


It is not good eating, though it is rendered more tolerable by 
being skinned, as is the case with so many rank birds of this 
family; and might be very well left alone by sportsmen if it 
would only let them alone. This, however, it will not do ; it 
has a very practical working knowledge of the range of a gun, 
and gets up just out of shot, trumpeting out a duet with its 
partner, which naturally puts all the other fowl on the alert. 
As a remedy for this, Hume recommends shooting a few with 
the rifle, which so frightens the survivors as to make them keep 
their distance to some purpose — so far off will they then get up 
that other fowl do not consider there is anything to worry about, 
and disregard them. 

This warning propensity is evidently due to natural noisiness 
and not to public-spiritedness, for the birds are most unsociable 
by nature, and, although flocks may sometimes be seen with us 
in winter, in the breeding season the pairs keep strictly separate, 
and persecute all other water-fowl, of their own species or any 
other, including even geese. Even in winter, students of the 
London park water-fowl may notice that the other birds are 
nervous of them, and even the mandarin, with all his pluck and 
bounce, shows by bis manner that he knows he is taking risks 
in snatching the bread from the mouth of the ruddy sheldrake. 

In Indian limits this bird has only been found breeding at 
a high elevation in the Himalayas, 10,000 feet and upwards ; 
the nests are in holes in cliffs, and several are found in the same 
quarter. The eggs are eight in number as a rule, and creamy- 
white ; the ducklings mostly sooty-black above and white below ; 
they will dive for food while in the down, although their parents 
are strictly surface-feeders. The ruddy sheldrake also breeds 
from Central Asia west, all along the Mediterranean, and visits 
China as well as India in winter. In Northern Burma it is very 
common, and known SLsHintJia. The Hindustani name Chakwa 
(with the feminine form Chakwi) is not the only one, Surkhab 
being also used ; Nir-batha or -koli is the name in South India, 
Mungh in Sind, Bugri in Bengal, the Telugu name is Bapana 
Chilhiica, and the Marathi Sarza or Chakraicak. 








•*y <- 


Commorv Sheldrake. 

Tadorna cornuta. Shah-Chakwa, Hindustani. 

Tlie real original or typical sheldrake, a well-known sea- 
coast bird at home, and the only surface-feeding duck which is 
a sea-bird anywhere, is a rather rare winter bird only in India, 
being only at all common in Sind, where it is called Niruji, and 
not going far south anywhere, though it ranges east to Upper 
Burma. The Hindustani names of Safaid Surkhab and Chandi 
Hans, however, which are in use as well as that given above, 
show that the natives know the bird well, and it is one that once 
seen is never forgotten — its predominant white colour, indicated 
by its native names, and set off by a black head and wing-tips, 
chestnut breast-band joining on the shoulders, and scarlet bill, 
are quite unique and unmistakable. Even the yearlings, in 
which there is no chestnut tint, and whose beaks are merely 
flesh-colour like the feet, are quite unlike any other duck. In 
size this bird is a little less than the ruddy sheldrake or Brahminy 
duck, being about as large as the mallard or spotted-bill, though 
much higher on the legs. 

It walks and runs well and gracefully like its ruddy relative, 
and also swims high in the stern ; the male floats particularly 
high in the water and looks decidedly bigger than the female, 
but there is practically no difference in plumage, although the 
drake's is richer in its hues. He has, however, a knob at the 
base of the bill in the breeding-season, and some trace of this is 
always visible in fully adult birds. 

The note differs greatly in the two sexes in this sheldrake, 
being in the male a low whistle, while the female's is loud and 
harsh, something between a quack and a bark. Though perhaps 
more often seen ashore than afloat, this duck is more of a 
water bird than the Brahminy, and can at a pinch dive well and 
go some distance under water. It is wary and hard to shoot, 
and as food it is one of the very worst of ducks, and indeed is 
not usually regarded as eatable. It feeds chiefly on small animal 
life, especially minute shell-fish, but also eats grass. All across 
the Old World it is a well-known bird in the north by the sea 


and lakes, but the bird known as sheldrake in the United States 
is our red-breasted merganser ; the prefix " shel " means pied, 
and no doubt was originally common to both species, as showing 
much white. 

White-winged Wood-Duck. 

* Asarcornis scutulata. Deo-hans, Assamese. 

The white-winged wood-duck is easily distinguished from all 
our other water-fowl by the contrast of its white head and the 
white inner half of its wings with its entirely dark body ; its 
great size, which exceeds that of all other Indian ducks, is likely 
to cause it to be mistaken for a goose when seen on the wing 
at a distance, but close at hand, whether seen on land or water, 
it is a most unmistakable duck, with nothing of the goose 
about it. 

The plumage of greenish-black and dark olive and red-brown, 
the black speckling on the white head, and the unique blue-grey 
bar bounding the white of the wing are common to both sexes, 
as are the yellow of the bill and feet, the former more or less 
speckled with black ; but it is only in the male that the bill 
becomes red and swollen at the root when the bird is in breeding 
condition, and he is very noticeably larger than the female, 
which, big bird though she is, does not average more than five 
or six pounds ; a drake weighs about eight. 

This splendid duck is a resident in our Empire, but very local 
and even yet not well known to most people, although the 
investigations of Mr. E. C. S. Baker in recent years have taught 
us a good deal about it. Its main home appears to be Assam, 
but it ranges east through Cachar and Burma to the Malay 
Peninsula, and its great haunts are the jungly, marsh- and pond- 
studded tracts in the country at the base of the hills ; in any 
case they are to be looked for in forest pools and streams, 
provided the running water is sluggish. It will thus be seen 
that their haunts are different from those of ducks in general, 

Casarca leucoptera on plate. 


and in a suitable locality a couple of brace may be got in a day, 
not, of course, without considerable exertion. The birds spend 
much of their time on trees, and generally occur in pairs or even 
alone ; flocks do not generally number more than half a dozen 
when met with. 

Although so easily tamed that except in the breeding season 
they can be allowed liberty and even the use of their wings, they 
are very wary and hard to get near in the wild state. The flight 
and call are described as goose-like, the note being a loud 
squawking or trumpeting ; nothing is said about there being any 
sexual difference in the voice, nor does the male's courting 
behaviour appear to have been recorded. 

Those Mr. Baker kept do not, indeed, seem to have shown 
much inclination to breed beyond pairing regularly, and he found 
them remarkably good-tempered. This is probably a sign that 
they were never in real high condition, for birds that go in pairs 
ought normally to want to "clear the decks" when they think 
of nesting. Hume similarly found Brahminy ducks very gentle 
and amiable, whereas, as I have said in my account of that 
species, they are really quite the reverse if determined on 
domesticity. A single female wood-duck in the London Zoo 
recently was sluggish in her habits, and quiet when with 
Muscovy ducks, but when among the smaller water-fowl I have 
seen her make a spiteful grab at one now and again. I noticed 
that the gait on land and style of floating in the water, in this 
bird, were not in the least like those of the nukta or sheldrakes, 
with both of which this species has been associated, but like that 
of an ordinary duck such as the mallard or spotted-bill. The 
squawking voice, goose-like flight, style of wing-marking, and 
general habits, however, seem to point out that this bird is really 
a peculiar type of sheldrake, and the swelling of the drake's beak 
in spring is similar to what happens in the common sheldrake, 
as well as in the nukta. 

Although Mr. Baker's specimens dived freely to catch live 
fish put in their tank, the wild birds are found not to dive when 
wounded, but to go ashore and hide in the jungle. They like 
various small animals, such as snails, insects and frogs, as well 
as fish, and prefer these to grain in captivity, though they would 


eat and thrive on the latter; they would not touch dead animal 
food, which is curious, as mergansers make no difficulty about 
this, though true fish-eaters. I presume they are fairly good 
eating, as an Assam planter who shot them regularly used to 
eat them equally so. The birds nest in holes and hollows of 
trees, the breeding season being about May, and they moult in 
September, retiring to the most remote swamps for safety. 
Outside our limits this bird is found in Java, and is siid to be 
domesticated there. 

Small Whistler or Whistling Teal. 

Dendrocycna javanica* Silli, Hindustani. 

The loud whistling call of several syllables uttered by this 
duck will at once strike the newcomer to India as something 
new in duck utterances ; it has evidently given the bird the 
Hindustani name above-noted, as also the variants of Silhahi 
and Chihee, while the Burmese rendering Si-sa-li is even 

The flight of the bird is as distinctive as the note; the legs, 
unusually long for a duck, and the neck tend to droop, at any 
rate when flying low, and the large blunt wings, which are 
all black underneath, contrasting with the brown body, are 
moved quickly, although the flight is not fast. The birds 
may settle in a tree, which naturally seems an even more 
remarkable performance than their vocal one ; and, indeed, 
the dend7'ocycnas, which are essentially tropical ducks, are 
often called tree-ducks as a group. The whistling, cackling 
call^ however, which is common to both sexes, is a far more 
distinctive peculiarity than the perching habit, common as this 
is to most ducks resident in the tropics. No doubt crocodiles 
and alligators have done their share in establishing this 
custom ! 

The plumage is as alike in the two sexes in this duck as 
the call, and this is again a group peculiarity ; in the present 
bird there is no striking marking, but the combination of 

* arcuata on plate. 








brown body and wings nearly all black will distinguish this 
bird from all our species but the large whistler, of which more 
anon. On the water it swims rather low, and the neck seems 
long in proportion to the narrow body and very short tail, while 
the wings fold so closely that the tips are not seen. This is 
a small duck, only weighing a pound or a little over, but it is 
absurd to call it a teal on that account ; the teal are pigmy 
relatives of the typical ducks, while these whistlers are a very 
distinct group, and in many w^ays are more like small geese 
than ducks. The present bird is the most abundant of the 
resident Indian ducks, and is found nearly all over the Empire 
where wood and water are combined, even down to the 
Andamans and Nicobars. But it is essentially a warm-climate 
bird, and does not often ascend the hills, nor is it to be found in 
dry treeless districts. In the Punjaub, where the migratory 
ducks are so common, it is rarely seen. 

The sort of water it likes is that overgrown with weeds, and 
here it is quite at home, be the water a village pond or an 
extensive jhecl. At night it roosts on a neighbouring tree, 
feeding among the weeds during the day, but seldom going 
ashore to do so. On land it walks well and gracefully, though 
slowly ; but it is essentially a water bird, and dives for food freely, 
though its action in so doing is just like that of a coot, as it 
springs high in starting, lifting its whole body out of the water. 
Naturally, it is difficult to bring to book if wounded, but 
Europeans generally refuse to regard it as game, owing to its 
general tameness and slow flight. This is a mistake, for it occurs 
in flocks of thousands where the locality suits it, and where it is 
common it must greatly interfere with the game migratory 
ducks. It is a most quarrelsome bird with others, attacking 
in combination ; I have seen even four set on to one spotted- 
bill in captivity. Even its own big cousin next to be described 
comes in for its bullying, and gives way to it. The flesh of 
whistlers is poor in most people's opinion, but will do for 
soup, and is liked by natives. The food is water-plants and 
snails, rice, &c. 

The birds breed usually in holes of trees or in the old nest 
of some kite or crow, but they also make nests for themselves 


either in trees, on cane-brakes, or among rushes — about anywhere 
where any duck ever does nest, in fact, except underground, 
though nests made by the birds themselves on the boughs, 
a rare habit among ducks, are the most usual. The eggs 
are rather rounded, very smooth, and creamy-white when 
fresh ; while the female is sitting the drake keeps guard close 
by, and the young are carried down to the water in the old 
birds' feet. The bird, which extends outside our limits to 
Java, has many native names : Saral, Sharul, Harrali-hans, in 
Bengali ; Hansrali in Uriya ; Horali in Assam ; and Tatta 
Saaru in Ceylon ; Tingi in Manipur ; the Telugu name is 
Yerra Chilluwa. 

Large Whistler. 

Dendrocycna majoi\ Burra Silli, Hindustani. 

The large whistler presents the peculiarities of its small 
common cousin in an exaggerated form ; it is longer-necked and 
more leggy, and has bigger feet and head ; its wings are blacker, 
and its body-colour a much richer brown — chestnut instead of 
dun, in fact ; its feet are often much lighter, French-grey instead 
of dark slate ; and it is far bigger, weighing up to two pounds, 
though it takes a good male to reach this. Nearly all these 
distinctions, however, though the most striking, are comparative ; 
more positive ones are the presence of a transverse curved patch 
of cream colour above the large whistler's tail, most noticeable 
when it takes wing ; this is replaced by dark inconspicuous 
maroon in the small whistler, which, on the other hand, has 
a conspicuous yellow ring round the eye, owing to the edge 
of the eyelids being thus coloured ; in the large bird they are 
grey, like the bill and feet. On the water the much more 
strongly developed streaking of cream colour on the flanks, as 
well as the redder head and breast and darker back, make the 
big whistler noticeable. 

It swims as well and dives as freely as the small kind, but 
also comes ashore a great deal more, and does not divide its 
time so rigidly between the water and the trees. On the wing 
it is far swifter, and being more wary, is a really sporting bird ; 



/// //.p// ^ 


some people also think it better on the table. It is resident in 
our Empire, but cannot be called a common, widely distributed 
or abundant bird ; it only goes in small flocks, never in the 
dense masses such as are seen in the case of the small whistler, 
and is only really numerous in Bengal, though ii ranges east into 
Burmah, west to the Deccan, and south to Madras. Outside 
our Empire it is not found in Asia. 

It feeds on much the same food as the small whistler, with 
an especial fondness for rice, wild or cultivated, and selects the 
same situations for nesting as a rule, i.e., old nests, holes in 
trees, or suitable boughs on which the birds make a nest of their 
own ; they have not, however, as yet been found nesting on the 
ground, but this is probably because they are so scarce and 
local in comparison that there are not the same opportunities 
for observation, or for variation in the birds' habits for that 
matter, that there are in the case of the small common species. 

Although they are afraid of this bird, and less aggressive 
with other ducks, they will fight readily enough with each 
other in captivity, springing right out of the water and striking 
with their feet. They also pair freely, unlike most of this 
group, w4iich displaj'- little sex-proclivities in captivity, except 
for tickling each other's heads like doves or love-birds. The 
eggs are white, and rather larger than those of the common 
whistler, though extremes meet. 

Outside Asia the large whistler, sometimes called the fulvous 
duck, is found in tropical Africa and the warm regions of 
America. This is a most extraordinary range for a bird that 
does not undertake long migrations, and calls for considerable 
elucidation ; there can be no doubt that the bird is greatly dis- 
advantaged in India by the competition of its abundant and 
aggressive relative, but then, on the other hand, it is far more 
hardy, bearing the English winter outdoors when the small 
kind looks thoroughly miserable and soon dies off, and even 
breeding. So one would think that it might have colonized 
cooler climates and struck out a line of its own ; but possibly 
it once had a more northerly range, and has become reduced 
to its present location by some cause which we do not at present 
understand — at any rate, its persistence in indistinguishable form 
all round the tropics is a unique phenomenon in bird-life. 


Bar-hcadcd Goose. 

Anser iiuUcus. Kareiji Hans, Hindustani. 

Although not breeding in India, but a winter visitor only, 
this is the wild goose of the country, visiting it in enormously 
greater numbers than any other species, and being far more 
widely distributed. The white head marked with two black 
cross-bars is unique among geese, but this colouring is not 
found in the young of the year, which have the crown brown 
continuous with the back of the neck. The real and most 
striking peculiarity is the pure light grey colour, more like that 
of the ordinary gulls than the usual brownish grey of geese in 
general : the legs are orange, and the bill the same or lighter, 
black-tipped. These geese seldom weigh quite six pounds. 

The bar-headed goose is commonest in Upper India, but is 
not plentiful in the Central Provinces, and decidedly rare further 
south. To the east it is common in Upper Burmah, and ranges 
into Manipur, where it is called kang-nai. Ceylon it does not 
visit at all ; none of the true geese occur there, in fact, all being 
essentially birds of the north. From Gujarat it is also absent, 
but at the opposite end of India, in Western Bengal, extremely 

Like geese generally, it is eminently a gregarious bird, and 
the flocks are sometimes very large ; they may contain as many 
as five hundred birds. Hume says that he has seen as many as 
ten thousand, in flocks of varying sizes from one hundred up, 
on a ten-mile reach on the Jumna. Of course large birds like 
these, in such numbers, do an enormous amount of damage to 
crops, all sorts of herbage, whether of pulse or grain, coming 
nito their bill of fare, though late rice is perhaps the favourite. 
As they commonly feed at night, though when undisturbed they 
will graze up to 9 a.m., and long before dark, a great deal of 
harm can be done without much chance of its being averted. 
After a course of this sort of feeding, they are in fine condition 
for the table at the appropriate time of Christmas ; but when 
they first come in, in October, they are thin and in poor case. 
As a general rule they all leave for the north again in March or 
early April. This goose prefers rivers to standing water for 








its daytime rest, but, like the geese generally, does not go into 
the water much, but remains on the banks, with sentries set to 
give the alarm if required. Sometimes, however, the flocks ride 
at anchor, as it were, in the middle of a river or tank. 

Drifting" down on them in a boat, where they are found on a 
river, has been found a satisfactory manner of approach ; and 
they are often shot at ilighting-time in the evening. They fly 
in the V-figure which is usually assumed by travelling geese, 
and, for such birds, are unusually active, as well as strong, on the 
wing. Damant records a curious example of this : " In Manipur," 
he says, " I have often watched them returning from their feeding 
grounds to the lake where they intend to pass the day ; their 
cry is heard before they themselves can be seen ; they then 
appear flying in the form of a wedge, each bird keeping his place 
with perfect regularity ; when they reach the lake they circle 
round once or twice, and Anally, before settling, each bird 
tumbles over in the air two or three times precisely like a 
tumbler pigeon." I have seen domestic geese turn somersaults 
in the water when playing, but "looping the loop" is somehow 
a performance one hardly expects of a goose. In spring, also, 
in its breeding haunts, the bird chases its mate on the wing. 
As geese go, however, this species is graceful and active on land 
also; it sits high in the stern on the water, like geese generally. 
The note is harder and sharper than that of the grey goose, 
according to Hume, who says the two species can be distinguished 
by this alone when passing overhead at night. They do not 
associate, though often seen near together. 

Although the bar-headed goose is found on the Kashmir lakes 
and elsewhere in the hills up to 7,000 ft., it does not breed in 
India, but in Ladakh, Central Asia and Tibet. The four or five 
eggs are white, and are to be found on islands in the Tso- 
mourari lake even before the winter ice breaks up. The goslings 
are yellow, shaded with olive above, and have black bills and 
feet, as I have seen in specimens bred in Kew Gardens. The 
Ladakhi name for the bird is Neg-pa ; the Nepalese call it Paria, 
and the Tamils Nir-hathu ; Birwa is also a Hindustani name. 


Grey or Grey-lag Goose. 

Anser ferus.^ Sona hans, Hindustani. 

Everyone who has seen a grey domestic goose at home 
knows what this bird is hke ; only the wild race is smaller, its 
form is slighter and more elegant, and the beak and feet, 
generally orange in tame geese, are pink or flesh-coloured. In 
spring the bill becomes very rich in tint in Indian specimens, 
a bright rose or light carnation red. 

Old birds are heavily marked with black on the belly, and 
these should be avoided when selecting geese from one's bag 
for one's own consumption, according to Hume's sage advice, 
as apt to be tough and hard. Such birds may weigh as much 
as eight and a half pounds. ,0n the wing this goose can be 
discriminated from all the other dark-grey or brown species 
by the pale French-grey tint of the inner half of the wing, 
which shows up very conspicuously in flight, appearing nearly 
white. The gaggling note is like that of the tame goose at 
home, but not so shrill and high as that of Indian tame geese, 
which are of the Chinese species {Cygnopsis cygnoides) so well 
known as ornamental birds in our parks. This black-billed 
brown goose is found wild in Eastern Asia, and may hereafter 
be found to occur m the east of our Empire in that condition. 

The grey goose is the only common goose in India besides 
the bar-headed, and, like that bird, is only a winter visitor ; all 
along the northern Indian and Burmese provinces it is common, 
but its numbers bear no comparison to those of the bar-head 
except in Sind ; in Gujarat, however, it is the only kind found. 
Like the bar-head, it visits Kashmir and parts of the Himalayas 
at a moderate altitude. Its southern limit for the most part 
is that of the Gangetic plain. 

It is, if anything, more gregarious than the bar-headed goose, 
flocks of upwards of a thousand being seen on the west, where it 
is most abundant ; these flocks in flight observe the usual V 
formation and travel with a rapid but stately flight. They get 
under way slowly, and Mr. E. C. S. Baker advises that when 

cinereus on plate. 






stalking tbem one should put in one's first barrel at them on 
the ground, and give them the second as they rise. Although 
wild geese are often much less wary in India than they pro- 
verbially are in Europe, they will be found to need careful 
stalking where natives have guns, and in such places it is of no 
use getting one's self up as a native in a blanket disguise, 
a bullock used as a stalking-horse being much better. 
' They may also be shot when by the side of rivers by gliding 
down on them in a boat, as mentioned in the case of bar-headed 
geese, but there must be some arrangement to conceal the 
shooter's head. They keep more on the shore than in the water, 
and walk well, if not so gracefully as the bar-heads ; they are 
also fast swimmers, and dive freely in play or when wounded, 
but cannot keep under long. Having the same vegetarian habits 
as geese in general, and bemg often so numerous, they are only 
second as crop ravagers to bar-headed geese, and like them, do 
much of their mischief at night. The younger birds, when 
well fed, are good eating j actual yearlings may be distinguished 
by having the feathers of the usual rounded shape, the square- 
tipped feathers being a peculiarity of geese after they have got 
their adult plumage, and particularly noticeable in the darker 
species owing to the light tippings showing up in transverse 
bars on the back and flanks. 

Even with big birds like this goose, however, eagles, and 
in tidal waters crocodiles, prove a great nuisance b}' making off 
with wounded birds, astonishing as it may seem that a com- 
paratively slight-built eagle like the common ring-tailed river 
eagle of India (Haliaetus leucoryphus) should be able to lift and 
carry such a weight, which must much exceed its own. Grey 
geese come in and depart at about the same time as the commoner 
species ; their breeding-grounds are in Northern and Central 
Asia and in Europe, including a few localities in Britain. They 
also visit Europe in winter, but at home are the least numerous 
of the regular visitants among the geese. It is just possible 
they may be found breeding in Kashmir ; the nest is a mass 
of reeds, &c., piled upon the ground near water, and the eggs 
white, and about half a dozen in number. The goslings have 
black legs at first. In Hindustani this species is sometimes 


called Baj-hans as well as the bar-headed, and s,\Ym\di.x\y Kangnai 
is used in Manipar. The Nepalese name Mogula is, however, 
quite distinct. 

Pink-footed Goose. 

A)iser hraclujrhynchus. 

Although Hume noticed in a pair of these birds he shot 
from among a flock of greys in 18G4 on a sandbank in the 
Jumna, that as he looked down upon them from a cliff above 
"they were conspicuous by their smaller size, clove-brown 
colour (that is what they looked at a distance), and very pink 
feet," some allowance must be made for variation. The feet of 
the grey-lag are sometimes about the same shade as those of the 
pink-footed, and the tone of the plumage also varies, as well as 
the size, the pink-footed sometimes weighing as much as the 
smaller grey geese. 

The real distinguishing point is the bill, which is black at the 
base and tip, only pink on the intermediate space, in young birds 
only a band nearer the end ; the pink is sometimes very rich — 
carmine, in fact — and sometimes, both on the bill and feet, verges 
on or is replaced by orange. The slaty-grey inner half of the 
wing, however, which resembles the same part in the grey 
goose, though darker like the rest of the plumage, will distinguish 
a pink-footed goose whose feet are not a true pink from the 
orange-legged bean-goose ; besides which the bean-goose is a 
big-billed bird, the beak being two and a half to three inches, 
while the pink-footed, as indicated by its scientific name, which 
means " short-billed," has a particularly small beak, only a 
couple of inches long, and narrow in proportion. 

The pink-footed goose is one of our winter rarities, but has 
been reported on several occasions, though actual specimens 
have very rarely been preserved. It has been reported from the 
Punjaub, Oudh, Assam, and the Shan States, and Mr. E. C. S. 
Baker has one procured in Cachar. This specimen was got by 
a fluke by one of his native collectors out of a very wide-awake 
flock of about a dozen, and a Hock of twenty has been reported 
from the Punjaub. 


^' \ 













It is possible, however, that, as Mr. Baker says, this species 
may have been mixed up with Sushkin's goose, Anser neglectus, 
a little-known species recently described, ranging as near as 
Persia, and believed to have been obtained in India. 

This also has pink feet and the centre of the bill pink, but it 
resembles the bean-goose m plumage, having no slate-colour on 
the wing, and its bill is about two and a half inches long, though 
not so well developed as in the bean-goose. I must say I am 
very suspicious of all these supposed new species of geese, and I 
am inclined to suspect that as the pink-footed goose may have 
orange where it ought to be pink, the bean-goose may return the 
compliment. Also, what is there to prevent these nearly allied 
geese from hybridizing, which geese do most readily in captivity? 
Anyone, therefore, shooting a pink-footed goose of any sort 
should be careful particularly to record the colour of wing and 
size of bill, these being the great points in these half-black- 
beaked species of geese. 

The true pink-footed goose is a western bird, its breeding- 
places being in arctic Europe ; it is the commonest of the 
" grey " inland-feeding geese known at home — in fact the most 
numerous of all our wild geese, except the " black " brent of 
the sea coasts. 


Anser fabalis.* 

The beau-goose, like the grey-lag, is a big bird with a large 
strong bill, indeed bulged and coarse in some specimens ; by the 
colour of this, which is black at the tip and for a varying amount 
of the base, the remaining portion being orange, it can be dis- 
tinguished from any large-billed goose found with us. The 
legs are also orange, and the general colour of the plumage 
dark greyish-brown rather than grey. 

Although there are several reports of its occurring in India, 
there seems to be no actual Indian-killed specimen on record ; 
yet Blyth, who was perhaps the best naturalist that ever lived, 

* segetum on plate. 


definitely said that Gould had one which was killed in the 

As the bird has a wide distribution in the north of the 
Eastern Hemisphere, and visits the shores of the Mediterranean 
in winter, it is at any rate highly probable that these records are 
correct. Several forms are distinguished, chiefly differing in the 
distribution of the colours on the bill and in the size. The bird 
figured in Hume's plate is of the race distinguished as aroensis, 
in which the orange occupies the bill nearly to the exclusion of 
the black, whereas in the typical form this colour is confined to 
a band in front of the middle of the bill, the bill being thus 
mostly black. This is generally the case also with the race 
middendorfi, which visits China in winter, and is certainly a 
probable visitor ; but BIyth said that Gould's bird was a common 
bean-goose, while the bird named after von Middendorf is 
particularly large, especially with regard to the bill, and 
is prone to exhibit a yellowish shade on the head, admittedly 
variable, however, and accidental, like the rusty stain so 
often found on the head of the swan. It is also admitted that 
there may be much more than a mere band of orange on the 
bill of this Eastern bean-goose, and so it seems most advisable 
at present to call them all simply bean-geese ; anyone who 
shoots a specimen can indulge in details of marking and 
measurement to his heart's content. 

White-fronted Goose. 

Anser alhifrons. 

Every goose that has some white on the forehead is not 
necessarily a white-fronted goose, nor does the absence of white 
in that part disqualify a bird for the title; for the grey-lag often 
shows a little white at the base of the bill, and young white- 
fronted geese have none, but are rather darker there than 

The real distinctive points are the combination of orange 
legs with a yellow or flesh-coloured or pink bill, changing after 
death to orange, but in any case without any black on it. The 
body-colour of this bird is much browner than in the grey goose. 


and the size niucli siualler as a rule, larfje specimens weighing 
little over five pounds. The bea^v is also smaller in proportion, 
measuring only two inches, while the grey-lag's is two and a 
half to three. 

The white front, when fully developed in adult birds, is in 
the form of a broad band across the forehead and bordering 
the base of the beak ; in adult birds also the belly has transverse 
black markings, often so pronounced that this part is practically 
all black. 

The white-fronted goose is with ns a rare winter visitor, but 
may turn up anywhere in our northern territories, from Sind to 
Burma. It is met with by itself, not along with other geese, 
although only found singly or in twos and threes. Three, for 
instance, was the number observed and shot by Hume on his 
first record of the species in November, 1874; these birds were 
shot on the Jhelum, and one of them, which was only wounded, 
led him a literal wild-goose chase before being secured, twice 
rising and flying off strongly for a long distance before he finally 
got it, to the great disgust of his men, who, as he says, " were 
tired of plodding through the loose sand ; all objected to going 
further after this goose. In the first place they declared he had 
flown away altogether out of sight ; in the second place they 
said I might have killed a dozen geese during the time I had 
wasted over this one wounded bird, which was, moreover, a very 
small one. There was almost a mutiny, but I had marked the 
bird precisely and insisted on going up to the spot," when the 
deplorable disregard for science exhibited by these benighted 
natives was punished by the goose's opportune appearance 
just as it was despaired of even by their master. 

These specimens proved to have " fed entirely on some 
species of wild rice, and on tender green shoots of some grass 
or grain " — the ordinary food of geese, in fact. Indeed, there is 
nothing special about the habits of this species to record, though 
its cry is rather different from that of the grey goose, being often 
compared to laughter ; in fact, laughing goose is a well-known 
name for it. AVhen in India it has usually been found to 
frequent rivers. It ranges all across the Northern Hemisphere 
in high latitudes, though the American birds, which are larger 


than the Old World ones, are nowadays commonly referred to 
a so-called species, Anser gamheli. Should this large, and 
especially large-hilled, form turn up here, the entirely light bill 
will distinguish it from all our large species except the grey-lag, 
and the orange feet from that. It goes as far south as the 
Mediterranean in winter, and at that time is one of the familiar 
wild geese that worry farmers and bother shooters at home. 

Dwarf Goose. 

Anser crythivpus* 

This small edition of the white-fronted goose is hardly bigger 
than the Brahminy duck, and being of a decidedly dark brown 
colour, is recognizable at a considerable distance. Close at 
hand, it will be noticed that the eyelids are of a yellow colour, 
forming a noticeable ring round the eye ; this forms a positive 
distinction from the large white-fronted goose, and besides, the 
bill is small even in proportion to the smaller size of the bird, as 
usual in small geese, while the wings are longer, reaching even 
beyond the end of the tail. It is not, therefore, surprising to 
hear that it is more active in flight than the big geese. 

These points will distinguish even the young bird before the 
white on its forehead has developed, though all the Indian 
specimens I have seen have had it; and this white patch when 
present is another good distinction, being much longer and 
extending up on to the crown, instead of developing mostly in 
a transverse direction. The legs are orange as in the large 
species, and the bill is said to be orange in the adults and reddish 
grev in the young, but in those live specimens I have seen, 
mostly fine adults, the bill has been a very bright rose-pink or 
cerise red, though one or two, no doubt younger, certainly so in 
one case, had it flesh-colour. I expect the colour changes after 
death, or is individually or locally variable, as in the grey goose, 
which in Europe has often an orange bill. 

The dwarf goose is only a winter visitor to India, and if 
anything rarer than its larger relative ; very few have turned up 

* minutus on plate. 


since the first record in October, 1859, when Irby killed a couple 
and saw another near Sitapur in Oiidh. But it has been got 
here and there in the north as far east as Lakhimpur. In 1898, 
four came into the Calcutta Bazaar, and I got them on behalf 
of the Calcutta Zoo ; three were brought all together on New 
Year's Day, but they had been sent down from up-country, and 
had their wings cut. It is worth noting that these birds did not 
moult at the proper time that year ; two died, and I determined 
to pull the quills of the others to start the moult and save their 
lives. This I did, not without difhculty, but the result was they 
moulted all right, and lived and moulted normally for some time 
after, not seeming to feel the heat at all, though this species is 
a high northern bird, breeding close to the unmelting ice. It 
is common in winter in China, and also visits Japan, but not 
any part of the New World. It is an Eastern species, and as 
rare at home as in India. 

Rcd-brcastcd Goose. 

Branta ruficollis. Shak-voy, Siberia, 

A very small black-and-white goose, with a breast nearly as 
red as a robin's, is such a remarkable bird that it can hardly be 
overlooked anywhere, and so the fact that it has been recognized 
in India is not surprising, though the paucity of even visual 
records, and the absence of any actually obtained specimen, bear 
eloquent witness to its rarity. 

Like the dwarf goose, it is hardly larger than the Brahminy 
duck, and has very long wings and a particularly small bill ; its 
colours also, curiously enough, are practically those of the 
Brahminy, though very differently distributed. The general 
hue is black, with white stern and broad white band along the 
flanks ; as this comes just above the water-line, the bird would 
not look nearly so dark on the water as ashore or on the wing. 
The rich reddish-brown of the fore-neck and breast i^; also bordered 
with white, as is a patch of the same red on the cheek ; before 
the eye there is a white stripe. 

One would expect the female of so richly coloured a bird to 
be at least a little duller than her mate ; but this is not the case, 


the rule among the tune geese of the similarity of the male and 
female being strictly observed, and the sooty-brown specimens 
with dull brownish tints where the red ought to be being the 
young of both sexes. Even these, however, are quite unmis- 
takable. The bill and legs are black, the former being remark- 
ably delicate and small, only about an inch long. 

The best record of the occurrence of this lovely bird in India 
is that furnished by Mr. E. C. S. Baker, in his book on the Indian 
ducks and their allies ; he says there that he " was fortunate 
enough to see five specimens on a chur in the Brahmapootra, 
just below Gowhatty ; they arose a long way off as the steamer 
drove up stream towards them, but turned and flew past us 
within sixty to a hundred yards, and there could have been no 
possible chance of mistaking them." His friend, Mr. Mundy, 
had previously communicated to him a good description of some 
he had seen on the same river in Dibrugarh. As to the 
record of 1836 in the Oriental Sporting Magazine, I have looked 
this up, and quite agree with Blanford that the author of this 
did not know what he was talking about ; so that these modern 
ones, in my opinion, remain unique. The red-breasted goose 
occurs in Europe, including England occasionally, but always 
as a rarity ; it is, however, not really a very rare bird, being 
common enough in Western Siberia, where it breeds, and coming 
as near to us in winter as Persia and Turkestan. It does well 
in captivity, and while this book was being written I had the 
pleasure of inspecting a lovely pair which were deposited at 
the Zoo en route from Germany to the Duke of Bedford's estate 
at Woburn, where, I heard, there was already another. These 
birds showed the tame disposition with which this species is 
credited ; and I must say that if I got hold of a netted or wing- 
tipped bird in India, I should not dream of killing it, but keep 
it to send to Europe, since a photograph, if only of the head, 
would be amply sufficient for the record. 







Mute Swan. 

Cijgniis olor. Penr, Punjabi. 

The only swan which visits India in any numbers, and that 
only in hard winters, is the well-known bird that is kept as an 
ornament all over the civilized world. No doubt a few come 
in every winter, and they have been killed in the hot weather 
on two occasions ; but that the bird has always been a rarity is 
proved by the fact that Calcutta dealers have for many years 
imported them from Europe by the dozen, and by the fact that 
there is no true native name — Penr really meaning? a pelican. 

Tbis swan may be distinguished from all others by the black 
knob at the base of the bill, but as this is little developed in the 
young birds, the best point to go by is the colour of the bare 
patch, which extends from the bill to the eye ; this in this 
species is black as well, whatever the age. In young birds the 
plumage shows more or less drab, and their bills are not of the 
full orange-red colour of the old birds, but some shade of grey 
or pink. 

Although so well known as a tame bird, and well established 
as an " escape " breeding at large in some parts of Britain, and, 
doubtless, elsewhere, this sw^an has, for a water-bird, not a very 
wide range; nor does it go very far north, its true home being 
Central and South-eastern Europe and Western and Central 
Asia. In winter it visits North Africa, but does not go very 
far west ; and India appears to be its eastern limit on its 
southerly migrations. And with us it only comes to the North- 
west, the Peshawar and Hazara districts being the most likely 
ones in which to find it. The birds have generally been seen 
singly or in small flocks, and have shown a tameness which has 
been rewarded by unrelenting slaughter in too many cases — as 
if one such bird were not enough for a record, the species being 
so unmistakable. 

At the same time, although swans are bat rarely eaten in 
Europe nowadays, it may be remembered that they are edible — 
at any rate the grey yearling birds — which are still fattened for 
eating at Norwich, if nowhere else in England. In view 
of the occasional occurrence of these swans in summer, and of 


the fact that they have laid eggs when kept in captivity in such 
an unnatural climate as that of Calcutta, it is just possible that 
they may yet be found breeding somewhere in India, especially 
in exceptionally cool seasons. Most people know what a swan's 
nest is like — a huge pile of any vegetable matter the birds can 
get hold of, placed close to the water's edge, and, if possible, on 
an islet. But as the birds, to put it mildly, do not encourage 
examination of the nest when without fear of man, it maj^ be as 
well to mention that the eggs are about four inches long, pale 
sage-green in colour, and number about half a dozen. The 
cygnets are grey normally, but now and then white ones occur ; 
and these are white even in their first feathering, and have pale 
clay-coloured or flesh-coloured feet all their lives instead of the 
usual black or grey. Such birds used to be distinguished as a 
species, the so-called Polish swan {Cygnus immutabilis). 

The food of these swans consists of water-weeds and grass, 
with some animal matter, especially fish-spawn ; in domestication 
they eat grain freely, but do not come ashore to seek it in the 
wild state apparently. In fact they do not come ashore much 
except to rest, generally grazing from the water, where grass on 
the banks is accessible ; nor, though they stand on their heads 
to reach the bottom, do they ordinarily dive ; though I once saw 
a small cygnet do so for about a couple of yards when attacked 
by a vicious black swan. This Australian bird, by the way, is 
more freely imported into India than the mute swan, and both 
species have been known to escape ; so that records, especially if 
of old birds, and away from the North-west, are not free from 
suspicion. The birds rise heavily and slowly, but fly fast, though 
with slow strokes, and, in spite of their awkward gait, a wounded 
bird has been known to run fast in hundred-yard spurts before 
hunted down. 

This species is well called the mute swan, for though not 
actually voiceless, it is far more silent than other species, and its 
note, a grunt or a sort of suppressed bark, is not loud. It is one 
of the largest of flying birds, attaining a weight of tbirty pounds ; 
though the birds occurring here are not likely to weigh more 
than half that. 








Cygnus inusicus* 

The whooper, often distinguished at home as the " wild 
swan," is a far rarer visitant to India than the mute swan, 
having been recorded in India less than half-a-dozen times. 
The earliest record was, curiously enough, in Nepal, and many 
years before the first record of the mute swan, namely, in 1829. 

All the other specimens have been got in the North-west, 
more than one having sometimes been seen. 

This swan is not noticeably smaller than the other, and is 
also drab in the first feathering, though white in the down as 
well as when adult; but it is easily distinguishable at all ages, 
because the bare patch of skin on the face is always pale, not 
black — greenish-white in the young, and bright yellow in the 
adult. The end half of the bill, or less, is black, the old one's 
beak being black up to the basal end of the nostrils above, 
though the black does not reach beyond the further end of 
them below; the rest of the bill is yellow, continuous with the 
yellow face. 

The real difhcult3Ms' to distinguish this bird from Bewick's 
swan, whose distinctions, however, are given below. The bill 
has no knob, and is longer than in the mute swan, while the 
nostrils are situated farther forward, being in the middle of 
the bill, while in the other bird they are nearer the base than 
the tip. 

Other distinctions are the short blunt tail, the mute swan's 
being pointed ; the straight goose-like carriage of tlie neck, and 
especially the voice, which in this species is a beautiful trumpet- 
call. This is evidently the swan celebrated in ancient story as 
singing before its death; in fact, one bird shot in India, on the 
River Beas, being only winged, "continued to utter its long, 
loud, musical trumpet-call," while the three birds which had 
accompanied it were still in sight, as recorded by General Osborn, 
who shot it, m a letter to Mr. Stuart Baker. 

The whooper is a true northern bird, being found in the 

* ferns on plate. 


breeding season chiefly in the Arctic liegions, both in Europe 
and Asia ; but it breeds as near and as far south, apparently, 
as Seistan, and also nests in Greenland, though not on the 
American continent. In Iceland it is well known as a nesting 
species. In winter it regularly comes as far south as Southern 
Europe in the West, and Corea in the East. 

Its general habits are similar to those of the mute swan, but 
it comes ashore to graze more, and is not so awkward a walker. 

Bewick's S>van. 

Gygnus hewicki. 

Bewick's swan is so very like the whooper that it requires a 
fairly near view to differentiate them, for though Bewick's is a 
considerably smaller bird, this cannot be appreciated unless there 
are facilities for comparison, and dimensions vary in both 
species ; while of course detailed examination is necessary 
correctly to observe the distribution of black and yellow on the 
bill, w4]ich furnishes the most reliable distinction. Bewick's 
swan, like the whooper, has the face and base of the bill yellow, 
but the yellow is confined to this part of the bill, all the rest 
being black from the nostrils to the tip, as is also in some cases 
the ridge of the bill between the nostrils and the forehead. The 
yellow generally stops short at or before the basal end of the 
nostrils, all across the beak, and never extends below the further 
end of them and even beyond that, as it does in the whooper. 
The young birds in this species are grey, and have flesh-colour 
on the bill where the old ones are yellow ; the weight is up to 
twelve pounds, little smaller than some whoopers. The first 
undoubted Indian example of Bewick's swan was recorded by 
Mr. E. C. S. Baker, in the Bombay Natural History Society's 
Journal in 1908, vol. xvni. It was a fine adult bird, and had 
been killed at Jacobabad, by Mr. McCulloch. In the winter of 
1910-1911, two more specimens turned up, one near Mardan, 
and another at Campbellpur, on December 30 and January 2 
respectively; both were adults apparently, and the exceptional 
cold then prevailing no doubt, as Mr. Baker suggested in record- 







ing these specimens, had caused their appearance in our Hmits ; 
at the same time he recorded the occurrence of a couple 
of young whoopers, shot out of a flock of seven on the Kabul 
River. It is very possible that a swan recently recorded as seen 
near Bharao, though not bagged, may have been of this species, 
as it is said to have had a small black bill. In any case, there 
is now^ no doubt about the occurrence of Bewick's swan as an 
occasional visitor to India, while probably Burma also is within 
range of its winter wanderings. In fact, as tbis bird has a more 
eastern range than the whooper, at any rate in the breeding- 
season, it might be reasonably expected to come in at least as 
often as that species ; its normal winter quarters in Asia, how- 
ever, are China and Japan, and in China it seems to be the 
commonest swan at that season. In the west it ranges in 
winter as far south as the Mediterranean. 

It has a quite different and less musical note tban the 
whooper, resembling the syllable "kiik" many times repeated, 
and sits high on the water. It comes ashore a good deal, and 
is a better walker than most swans ; it can, moreover, run well. 

Common Snipe. 

Galliuago ccelestis* Chaha, Hindustani. 

The " fantail " snipe, as this species is often called to 
distinguish it from the next, is the same bird as the common 
snipe of Europe ; I mention this particularly, because I have 
heard of sportsmen proposing — and I believe the idea was 
carried out — to send some Indian-shot snipe home in cold 
storage to see if they really were the same as the British 

But to many people who have not done much shooting before 
they come out, the difficulty will be to distinguish a snipe from 
the many sandpipers or snippets ; such small waders being 
abundant in India, and often sold- — at any rate they were in 

* scolopacinus on plate. 


the Calcutta Bazaar in my time — for the table as snipe, which 
argues that a good many people do not know what a snipe 
ought to be. 

The characteristic of the true snipe, fantail or pin-tail, then, 
is the rich dark, well-mottled plumage, showing brown, black 
and buff, instead of the more uniform and coldly tinted drabs 
and whity-browns of the sandpiper tribe. In particular is to be 
noticed the orange-buff tint at the end of the tail-feathers. The 
great length of the beak, which is about half as long as the 
rest of the bird, is also a noticeable point, but as some few 
sandpipers have very long bills, it may be noticed that in such 
there is always a small web between the nnddle and outside 
toes, which is completely wanting in snipe of all kinds. 

There is no difference in colour between male and female 
snipe, but, on the whole, the hens are bigger than the cocks, 
the hen's bill sometimes reaching three inches, and her weight 
five and a half ounces, while a big cock's beak will only be about 
two inches and three-quarters, and his weight barely over the 
five ounces ; the average weight of both sexes is given by Hume 
as 4'2 ounces. 

The vast majority of fantail snipe are winter visitants to 
India ; they first come in in any number about the end of 
August, and September is the usual month for the arrival of 
these birds, while in Southern India and Burma they are later 
than this. By the end of March most of them have usually 
left again, but sometimes many stay on till the middle of April, 
and even up to June stray birds may occur even in the south 
of India. The Sub-Himalayan tracts are those which tempt 
most birds to stay late, being well wooded and well watered. 

During their stay fantail snipe are found all over the Empire, 
though their abundance varies in different localities, generally 
inversely with that of the pintail ; in the southern and eastern 
provinces of India and in Burma, for instance, this species is the 
less common of the two, and often quite scarce, while it is the 
common species of the north-west part of the countr3\ Snipe 
in distribution and the dates of it are, of course, somewhat 
affected by weather ; heavy rains and prolonged cold weather 
will keep them longer in the north, delaying their spread to the 



southern districts, and will likewise delay their final departure 
in the spring. 

Although not actually flocking, as so many waders do, 
they are sociable to the extent that several may generally be 
found in one locality, and in the arrival and departure of the 
general body taking place simultaneously. Their chosen ground, 
as most people know, is swamp or marsh, wherever mud and 
low grassy cover is available ; paddy-fields naturally appeal to 
them particularly. They resort to such places for food, which 
consists mostly, in the case of this species of snipe, of earth- 
worms, although other small forms of animal life are also taken. 
The food has to be found by feeling, and the way in which 
a snipe's bill, by its flexibility, will open at the tip, the end only 
of the upper jaw being raised to nip the worm, is a wonderful 
adaptation to this mode of feeding, as is also the " overshot " 
structure, the upper bill ending in a sort of knob, back of which 
the lower fits at the tip, so as to penetrate with as little resist- 
ance as possible. This structure is seen more or less in all 
true snipe, and is generally a good distinction from the various 
sandpipers, whose bills are usually less adapted for experimental 

AVhen they are not feeding, snipe like to be out of water, 
so during the heat of the day they are to be found on the 
nearest dry spot back of the mud on land, or even on water- 
weeds well out in a jheel. Being only small birds, also, they 
have no use for places where the water is more than an inch or 
so deep — too much water is just as bad as none at all from their 
point of view. Colonel Tickell sums up the situation by saying : 
" It is not easy to describe the ground this bird selects. In 
paddy fields, I found, where the stubble showed the mud 
freely — that is, was not too thick — and w^iere puddles of water 
were interspersed, fringed with short, half-dry, curling grass 
and small weeds, there the snipe were sure to be if in the 
country ; and note, if these puddles were coated over with a 
film of iridescent oily matter (the washings of an iron soil) the 
chances were greatly increased of a find." 

The ground on which that celebrated snipe-shot, Mr. W. K. 
Dods, of Calcutta, made his record bag of 131 couple — 259 of 


the present species, one pintail, and two jack-snipe — is described 
as " a large swamp tract of country covered with about the 
worst kind of ' punk ' it has ever been my fate to shoot in, 
a black reeking mud composed entirely of decayed and decaying 
vegetable matter in which one frequently sank to one's thighs ; 
growing in this ooze were dense clumps of hoogola reeds inter- 
spersed with fairly open glades, where birds could feed, and 
with other patches of thin null jungle in which snipe delight 
to rest during the day, secure from the too pressing attentions 
of the numerous hawks that infest these marshes." Snipe also 
seek cover in order to avoid the hot sun, for they are not birds 
of the light by choice, and at times even feed by night, besides 
migrating at that time. Their peculiar alarm-cry on rising 
— variously rendered as "scape," "psip," or " pench " — is well 
known, as also the zigzagging in flight during the first few 
yards of their course. This style of flight is due to alarm, for 
a snipe can fly straight from the start if it wants to, and does so 
when going off undisturbed. The straight-away flight is swift, 
but it is generally agreed that snipe afford easier shots in India 
than in England, though there is some difference of opinion 
as to the advisability of firing at once when the birds rise, or 
letting them get their twistings over before " letting drive " at 
them; both methods have been practised by excellent shots. 
Although their usual breeding haunts lie to the north and 
west of India, common snipe breed regularly in Kashmir, and 
very occasionally elsewhere with us. Mr. E. C. Stuart Baker 
took a nest himself and got the old bird as well, in the Santhal 
Pergunnas, and had another clutch brought him by his native 
collector. The birds when breeding produce the curious sound 
known often as '' drumming," though it is better described as 
" bleating." There has been much discussion as to how it is 
produced, but the method seems to be now fully ascertained ; 
the bird rises to a certain height in the air and swoops down- 
wards, with the tail outspread and its two outer feathers 
standing away from and in front of the rest. It has been 
proved experimentally that these two feathers alone, properly 
manipulated, will produce the " bleat." In the most interesting 
experiment of all they were fastened to the notch-end of an 


arrow sliot into the air, and tbe bleat came out as the dropping 
arrow reached the ground. Both sexes bleat, and they make 
this noise when alarmed as well as when courting. They also 
have a double note vocally produced, but not while drumming. 
Although in the breeding season snipe often perch on posts and 
trees, the nest is, as one would expect, on the ground, and is 
a very scanty affair; that Mr. Baker saw was composed of a 
fine, curly, brown grass. The eggs are peg-top-shaped, of an 
olive, drab, or brown colour, blotched with dark brown and 
lavender, and just over an inch long; four is the full set; the 
chicks run at once, and are mottled with light and dark brown 
and peppered with silver-white. 

Snipe have many local names : Tihud or Pan-Iowa among 
the Mahrattas; Khada-kiichi, in Bengal ; KcEsicatuica, in Ceylon ; 
Mor-ulan in the Tamil and MukupurecU in the Telugu languages. 

Pintail Snipe. 

GaUmago stenura. Mijatj-woot, Burmese. 

The pintail snipe is so like the common or fantail snipe in 
appearance, flight, and cry, that few people can distinguish it on 
the wing, though, as Mr. E. C. Stuart Baker tells us, a friend of 
his once won a wager with him by correctly referring to their 
species ten snipe, six fantail and four pintail, as fast as he shot 
them. When brought to book, however, they can be told apart 
with one's eyes shut. If one takes the bill of a snipe, of the 
ordinary type usually shot, in the thumb and fingers at the base, 
and feels it down to the tip, a distinct, though slight, thickening 
will be felt at the end in the case of a fantail, while in the pintail 
the calibre is practically the same throughout. 

There is also a difference at the opposite end ; on parting the 
soft feathers, or tail-coverts, which in snipe, as in most ducks, 
partly conceal the short tail, and counting tbe tail-feathers, there 
will be found on the fantail to be fourteen or sixteen in number, 
and all much alike and of ordinary shape, though the two outer 
are rather stiff and narrow — these are the " bleating " feathers, 
as remarked in the last article. In the pintail, there are ten 


ordinary feathers in the centre of the tail, while outside these 
are several pairs, up to eight, the number being variable, of 
curious short and very narrow feathers ; these are those which 
give the bird its name, being little broader than a stout pin. 
Thus a fully developed tail in this species has twenty-six 
feathers. Specimens with only half-a-dozen pairs of pin-feathers 
in the tail are unusually large in body, and have particularly 
yellow legs ; they weigh over five ounces, whereas ordinary pin- 
tail snipe average 3"91 ounces in the cock and 4"2 in the hen. 

These big specimens very hkely constitute a distinct local 
race, or sub-species, for as Mr. W. Val Weston, who first drew 
attention to them, says, they arrive at a different time from the 
ordinary pintail snipe, coming in with the fantails, which arrive 
in India later than the other species. Pintails may come in, 
though very rarely, in July, and regularly arrive in the beginning 
of August, but do not get down to Ceylon till October. On the 
whole they are more distributed towards the southern and 
eastern parts of our Empire than the fantails ; I give the 
Burmese name because pintails are the snipe commonly got in 
Burma, for as a matter of fact natives seem never to distinguish 
between the two kinds, observant as many of them are. At the 
end of the year there are hardly any pintails in the north, but 
in March they are again the more abundant species in the north- 
east ; and some may be found after the fantails have all gone 

Thus, although in many places and at many times both kinds 
occur abundantly side by side, on the whole they tend to replace 
each other quite as much as to occur together. Another factor 
in their separation lies in a slight difference in their habits — 
as might be expected from the different form of the bill, which 
is less adapted for feeling in mud in the pintail — their food is 
rather different. Both eat worms, but while fantails chiefly con- 
sume water-snails and water-insects in addition, pintails consume 
land creatures in large quantities, land snails, caterpillars, and 
even beetles, grasshoppers, and flying ants. Such food is 
naturally sought on different ground, and so, though both are 
often found in the same places, pintail are often found feeding 
on grass land and in stubble fields, and will lie up for the day in 
jungle and dry grass. 























In dry specimens a further difference in the beaks besides 
that of caHbre is apparent ; in the fantail the more abundant 
nerve-endings, drying up, give the end of the bill a much more 
pitted appearance than is seen in that of the other species, 
whose bill is less sensitive. It is probably on account of the less 
succulent food it consumes, as Mr. Baker suggests, that the 
pintail snipe is not quite so good on the table as the fantail, 
being often rather dryer in flesh. 

Both species are hable to produce light, more or less albin- 
istic varieties, of a fawn or creamy colour, and, far more rarely, 
very dark forms, 'of the type known in the common snipe in 
Europe as " Sabine's Snipe." Only one such dark blackish 
specimen of each kind has ever been recorded in India, and even 
the other variation, though commoner than varieties of birds 
usually are, is so rare that neither Mr. Baker nor Mr. Dods has 
ever shot one in all their long experience. The pintail is also 
particularly subject to minor variations in its plumage, the 
under-surface being often barred all over, while it has not the 
blank space in the barred wing lining which is noticeable in 
the fantail snipe. 

Pintail snipe sometimes breed in the country ; more than 
one set of eggs have been taken in Cachar, and in some years 
they seem to breed there quite frequently ; the eggs are not 
certainly distinguishable from those of the common snipe, and 
the nest is similar. 

The noise made in flight in the breeding season is, however, 
apparently characteristic, as one would expect from the very 
different tail-feathers ; according to Prjevalsky, who studied this 
.snipe in its breeding haunts on the Ussuri, " describing large 
circles above the spot where the female is sitting, it suddenly 
dashes downwards with great noise (which is most likely pro- 
duced by the tail-feathers) like that made by our species and 
somewhat resembles the noise of a broken rocket." The vocal 
two-syllabled note, however, is probably much like that of the 
common snipe. The Yenisei River forms the western limit of 
the pintail snipe's northern breeding range, which is thus 
.confined to Eastern Asia, and it winters in the East Indies as 
well as in India and Burma. 


Swinhoc's Snipe. 

Gallinago megala. 

When the sportsman has grasped the difference between 
fantail and pintail snipes he can, if so disposed, find some mild 
additional interest in looking through the pintails in his bag to 
see if by any chance a specimen of Swinhoe's snipe has fallen 
to his lot ; for this very rare species has only recently been 
added to our lists, and much resembles the pintail in most of 
its characters. 

The distinctive point, as is so often the case with snipe, is 
to be looked for in the tail; in Swinhoe's snipe the tail-feathers 
are twenty in number, the six central ones being normal, while 
the rest, though decidedly narrow in comparison to them, are not 
so markedly so as to be strikingly noticeable and to be compared 
to pins. The tail is thus intermediate in type between a fantail 
snipe's and a pintail's. 

It will be remembered that in the fantail all the tail-feathers 
look much alike, while in the pintail, which has about two dozen 
tail-feathers altogether, the side ones are very strikingly distinct, 
and though they are variable in number there are always at least 
eight normal ones in the centre. 

Mr. Stuart Baker was the first to recognize this bird as an 
Indian species; he shot one himself at Dibrugarh in 1903, and 
had a skin sent him from the Shan States in December, 1908. 
That the birds should have been killed in these districts is 
natural enough, for the natural haunts of the species are Eastern 
Siberia and Mongolia, Japan, and China, whence in winter it 
goes to the Philippines, Borneo, and the Moluccas. One would, 
therefore, expect it would be more likely to turn up in Burma 
and Tenasserim, and it seems extremely likely that it has been 
overlooked, for though it is bigger than most pintails, there is 
nothing about it to catch the eye. In case it breeds anywhere 
on our eastern border hills, it may be mentioned that the eggs 
are said to be peculiarly shaped like a woodcock's, and pale 
cream or buff in ground colour with grey and brown spots. 




Eastern Solitary Snipe. 

Gallinago solitaria. 

There has been a good deal of confusioa in the past 
between this bird and the wood-snipe, which is curious, because, 
although both snipe, and both big ones, they seem to lay them- 
selves out, as it were, to be as different as possible from each 
other. The wood-snipe is as near a woodcock as it can be 
without actually being one ; the solitary snipe is an intensified 
snipe in every way. It is the lightest in colour of all our 
snipes, as the wood-snipe is the darkest ; it is a typical snipe 
in its flight, though naturally not so active as the ordinary 
birds, since it is a foot or more long, and weighs from five to 
eight ounces, as much as many woodcock we get here. Its 
shape is not in the least woodcocky, and its call is an aggra- 
vated snipe-call, " a harsh screeching" imitation of the note of 
the common snipe, says Hume, who notes that this bird goes 
off calling, while the wood-snipe is usually silent. In the hand 
the pure white belly of this bird, so different from the barred 
under-surface of the wood-snipe, is at once noticeable ; its general 
appearance is that of the pintail rather than the fantail snipe, 
and it has several pairs of narrowed feathers in the tail, about 
the only point, apart from size, it has in common with the wood- 
snipe ; although even here the colour of the feathers, white with 
dark bars, is quite different. 

The solitary snipe is, it is true, a Himalayan bird like the 
wood-snipe, but it rarely penetrates into other parts of India, 
though it has been got as far away as Benares and the Wynaad, 
and is a regular breeder in the Chin and Shan Hills as well as in 
the Himalayas. In the winter it comes lower down, but very 
seldom strays from the bases of the hills. In summer it ranges 
up to 15,000 feet, and outside our limits breeds on mountain 
ranges in Central and Eastern Asia, and migrates south as far 
as Persia and Pekin. In spite of its title of solitary, it is not so 
much so as the wood-snipe, which is always alone, but may be 
found near one or two more of its kind as well as singly. It is 
nowhere numerous, though Hume estimates its numbers as at 
least ten times those of the wood-snipe ; but it must be remem- 


bered that this bird is far less retiring, and is found in the low 
cover that satisfies ordinary snipes, and often haunts the margins 
of little streams in bare ravines where the cover is very scanty. 
Now and then, however, it may be found actually in forest, and 
Mr. Stuart Baker shot a breeding male in North Cachar in such 
a situation. Its bill is less sensitive and, therefore, less adapted 
for boring for worms even than that of the pintail, and its chief 
food appears to be small insects and tiny snails, and, although 
good eating, it is, in Hume's opinion, not equal to the rest of our 

Its nuptial flight is much like that of the common snipe, but 
it descends from its pitch more slowly, and the sound it produces, 
though of the same general character, is recognizably different, 
as might have been expected from the different structure of 
the outer tail-feathers ; it is harsher, and more of a buzz than a 
bleat. The nest is of a very slight character, and the eggs, four 
in number, are, according to Oates, easily distinguished from 
the eggs of all other snipes by their pinkish buff ground colour. 
They are clouded with dull purple and spotted boldly with dark 
brown, these spots tending to be elongated and to run in streaks. 
In the Himalayas breeding begins in May. 

The Hindustani name. Ban Chaha, is the same as that 
applied to the wood-snipe, so that natives as well as Europeans 
seem to confuse these two very distinct birds. The Khasin name 
is Simpoo, the Assamese Boner Kocha, and the Cachari Daodidap 
gophu : the Nepalese BJiarka simply means " Snipe" generally. 

Western Solitary Stvipe. 

Gallinago major. "Double Snipe."' 

This fine snipe, called great snipe by naturalists at home, 
is as big as our two large mountain species, but easily dis- 
tinguishable from both by the outside tail-feathers being nearly 
all white and of normal width, this ordinary structure of the 
tail-feathers being a point to be noticed in young specimens, 
in which they are barred ; four pairs of the feathers show this 
"white, or white ground. Only one specimen shot in India has 

























been preserved ; this was shot in October, 1910, near Bangalore, 
by Captain A. Boxwell, and was a quite young bird ; yet it 
weighed seven ounces. It rose without a cry, but with a 
pronounced flutter of the wings, from a patch of mud at the 
edge of a rice-field. It was not, however, the first specimen 
recorded, for another, an adult weighing over eight ounces, had 
been shot in September, 1899, near Madras, by Captain Donovan, 
who thought he had got the species, but lost the specimen 
through sending it to the Madras Museum for identification, 
when it went bad and was thrown away, its captor only getting 
the information that his prize was a " wood-snipe." I suppose, 
from the frequency with which this bird is brought out when- 
ever there is a question of big snipe, that any bird of the snipe 
kind which is big gets put down as a wood-snipe because the 
name suggests the woodcock, known to be a big bird of the 
snipe kind ; for of course such mistakes ought never to be made. 
The moral is obvious ; in doubtful cases save the tail and eat 
your snipe. The great snipe breeds west of us, in Siberia and 
the north of Europe, and its usual winter haunts are the 
countries bordering on the Mediterranean, but it is also found 
as far east as Persia. Although in the structure of its bill — 
which is short for its size, not being so long as the fantail's — and 
its feeding-habits, it resembles the fantail snipe, as it does in 
its normally shaped tail ; it has a slow, straight, heavy flight. 
This sluggishness of movement may be the reason why it gets 
so fat ; the skin often breaks with the fall when the bird is shot. 
It is very nocturnal in its habits, and seldom moves by day. It 
is thus possible that it is often overlooked — indeed probable, as 
our only two recorded occurrences were in the South of India, 
where one certainly would not have expected it. Perhaps, like 
so many western birds, it may even breed in the Himalayas. 
It would be highly interesting if the doable snipe ever does turn 
out to breed with us, because its breeding habits are unique in 
the group so far as is known. The birds appear to have no 
love-flights, but to carry out their courting exercises and vocal 
accompaniments on the ground ; this alone would be remark- 
able enough, but in addition they are social at this period, and 
hold tournaments after the manner of black-game and several 


other grouse, where the males show off, and fight when they 
meet each other. The fighting does not amount to much, being 
confined to feeble slapping with the wings, and not lasting long 
at a bout. 

But the other performances of the males are curious ; the 
bird runs about with puffed-out feathers and drooping wings, 
every now and then jumping on a tussock, snapping his bill and 
uttering a soft, nearly a warbling, note, audible for some distance 
and rendered as bip, hip, bipbip, bipbiperere, biperere ; closer still 
various other sounds are audible, and the warbling amounts to 
a regular song. When singing the bird usually sits on a tussock, 
holding up his head till the snapping note is given out, and then 
depressing it, and erecting and spreading his tail till the white 
side-feathers show as two patches in the darkness ; for although 
commenced at the oncoming of dusk, the " Spil " as it is called in 
Norway, is carried on all night. As the birds coming to it, in 
Professor Collett's standard account here indented on, are spoken 
of as so many pairs — usually eight to ten — it would seem they 
are mated already, and do not come to get mates, although the 
cocks are mentioned as running about as above described before 
the females. 

The erection and spreading of the tail, by the way, is also 
noticeable in the woodcock under excitement. 

The eggs of this bird are much larger than those of the 
common snipe, and vary much in the amount of their marking ; 
the ground is olive-grey or stone buff, and the spots deep-brown 
and purplish-grey. 


Gallinago gallinida. Chota Chaha, Hindustani. 

The jack-snipe is a rather neglected bird in comparison with 
its relatives, perhaps on account of its small size ; it is only 
about as big as a skylark, and its beak is less than two inches 
long, while the weight, although the bird is commonly very fat, 
does not exceed two and a half ounces, and may be an ounce less 
than this ; there is no difference of size between the sexes. 

More important points than size, however, characterize the 


little jack ; curiously enough, he has, like the king of our snipes, 
the woodcock, only twelve tail-feathers, which, though the 
ordinary number for birds in general, is very short allowance 
for a snipe, as may be judged from what has been said about 
other species. All these tail-feathers, by the way, are pointed, 
but soft. More noticeable points, however, are the two cream- 
coloured stripes on the head instead of the three commonly 
found in snipes, and the marked sheen of green and purple on 
the upper plumage, which makes this little fellow the hand- 
somest of the true snipes. 

In flight the jack is notoriously distinct from snipes in 
general ; he rises very straight, flickers like a butterfly, flies a 
very short distance and — another curious likeness to the wood- 
cock — drops as if shot just when one does not expect it. 

There is no doubt that, quite apart from the fact that the 
bird is often overlooked and sometimes despised for its small- 
ness, it is not nearly so common or so regular in its visita- 
tions as the two stock snipes, pintail and fantail, nor is it so 
widely distributed as these are. Between 1894 and 1902, the 
years in which I lived in India, I only once found it common 
in the Calcutta market, although Hume says in his time it was 
brought in in thousands. Tickell and Mr. Baker, on the other 
hand, found it rare there, and, as we were all observing at 
different times, the inference is obvious that in some years, or 
periods of years, this bird visits us in greater numbers than 
in others, like so many other migratory species. It seems to be 
rare in the North-west, and has only once been shot in the 

As its breeding range, which extends all across the northern 
parts of the Old World, is to the north of that of our common 
snipes, it is not surprising to find that it does not breed here, 
but is merely a winter visitor, and has not been known to stay 
later than April, though it may arrive by the end of August. 

When here it is very local, and a favourite haunt is closely 
adhered to, another tenant occupying it if the incumbent for the 
time being is killed, while it takes a lot of shooting at it to put 
a bird off its home. According to Hume, it is particularly fond 
of corners, whether formed by the embankment of a paddy- 


field or by natural cover, and it likes wet ground, but must 
have shelter as well, so that its attachment to certain spots is 
easily explained. Although, on its breeding-grounds, it some- 
how, in its nuptial flights, produces a great noise which is 
compared to the traditional '''ammer 'ammer, 'ammer, on the 
'ard 'igh road " of a horse's hoofs, it does not give itself away by 
any note when rising, and its flight, if only by the mere fact 
that it is so different from that of other snipe, puzzles many 
people very much, though others say it is hard to hit. As Mr. 
Baker says : " Hume says that it is probably one of the easiest 
birds in the world to shoot if you reserve your fire till the 
proper moment, but I must personally confess that I have 
never yet quite made up my mind as to which this proper 
moment is !" But as to the jack's superior excellence on the 
table everybody seems agreed it is a case of " little and good " 
here, as it so often is in more important matters. Fortu- 
nately the bird, when flushed again and again, still adheres ta 
its policy of lying close and not running, and so gives several 
chances. Dogs also mark it easily, on account of its unusually 
strong scent. As the food of this snipe includes grass-seeds and 
even a little grass itself, although chiefly consisting of the small 
forms of animal life eaten by snipe in general, it may fairly claim 
to be original in this respect also. It is worth mentioning that 
it is almost the champion egg layer of the bird world, for though 
the number is only the usual four, the eggs themselves are nearly 
as big as the common snipe's, and might easily be mistaken for 
them except for being less bulky. 

Besides the native name quoted at the head of the article, 
others in use are Ohn in Tamil and Daodidap gajiha in Cachari. 


Gallinago yiemoricola. Ban-chalia, Nepalese. 

The wood-snipe is a very perfect connecting link between 
the typical snipes and those few members of the group which 
are dignified by the title of woodcocks; in style of flight, in the 
dark colour of its plumage, and especially in the dark transverse 
bars all over the lower parts of the body, it is a true woodcock. 









while it is also bigger than most snipes, being a thick-set bird 
weighing about five ounces and sometimes more, and measuring 
a foot in length. On the other hand, it shows snipe points in the 
bare hocks and the longitudinal dark markings on the head — 
those of all woodcocks being transverse — and in having several 
pairs of narrow feathers at the sides of the tail. The brown 
colour of these, by the way, is one of the distinctions between 
the wood-snipe and another big snipe often confounded with it, 
the Eastern solitary snipe, which also has narrowed lateral 
tail-feathers, which in its case are white with black bars. 

The plain dark pinion-quills, so different from those of the 
woodcock with their chestnut chequering, are at first sight a 
distinct point of essential snipiness ; but the American woodcock 
(Philohela minor) which everyone would call a typical woodcock, 
has also plain quills, so that, though useful to distinguish the 
wood-snipe from a small woodcock, they do not count either way 
in estimating its affinities. 

Even the haunts of the bird show its intermediate nature ; 
it frequents not so much woodland itself, but thick high grass 
cover at the edge of woods, wherever the ground is swampy or 
contains small pools ; the grass it affects is such as would be 
far too high and tangled for ordinary snipe, and it lies close and 
does not go far when flushed. Although, as in the case of the 
woodcock, stray specimens may occur away from the hills, this 
species again resembles the head of the clan in being essentially 
a mountain bird, breeding in the Himalayas, and visiting the 
hills of southern India during the winter. It extends to 
Manipur and even Tenasserim, but has not yet turned up 
anywhere outside our Empire. 

Owing to its partiality for the unhealthy swamps of the Tarai, 
it is a very little known bird, and besides appears to be really 
scarce, although its retiring disposition and its habits, which 
seem quite as nocturnal as the woodcock's, no doubt cause it 
often to be overlooked ; in many places it can only be shot from 
an elephant's back, and people hunting in this way are generally 
after something better than snipe ! 

When rising, if it calls at all — it is generally silent, woodcock 
fashion — the note is a double croak, rendered as "tok-tok." 


The fact that it has modified feathers in the tail no doubt 
indicates that it performs love-flights and makes tail-music — a 
snipe point — but as a matter of fact there seems to be no record 
of this. The breeding-zone of the wood-snipe is lower in the 
Himalayas than that of the woodcock, for though it may be 
found breeding up to 12,000 feet, and therefore in the woodcock's 
territory, it also breeds as low as 4,000, at which elevation Mr. 
Stuart Baker took a nest near Shillong, while in Manipur 
it is suspected of breeding at 2,000 feet, and Mr. Baker 
rather thinks it is resident in the Himalayan dooars. 

The egg he got from this nest seems to be the only authentic 
one in existence and, unfortunately, it happened to be a dwarf 
one ; the others in the clutch were smashed by the struggles of 
the parent, which was snared on her nest by his collector, but 
as the man said they were all alike, it is enough to indicate the 
colour, which, says Mr. Baker, is like that of many common 
snipe's eggs, but unusually brown ; the shape also is quite 
ordinary. The food of the wood-snipe consists rather of insects 
than of worms, and curiously enough of small black seeds also ; 
it is itself a particularly good bird for the table, if not of much 
importance as an object of sport. 


Scolopax rusticola. Sinititar, Hindustani. 

Plenty of good sportsmen have never shot or even seen a 
woodcock, just as Tickell says was his case, his first impressions 
of the bird, in Nepal, being as follows : " Imagining from the 
general resemblance of the two birds that a woodcock must fly 
like a snipe, I was much taken aback, when hailed to 'look out,' 
at perceiving what appeared like a large bat coming with a 
wavering, flagging flight along the little lane-like opening of the 
wood where I was posted ; but in an instant, ere I had made up 
my mind to fire, the apparition made a dart to one side, topped 
the bordering thicket, and seemed to fall like a stone into the 
covert beyond." 

When this queerly behaving bird is brought to bag, it is seen 


to be indeed like a snipe in the very long straight bill, overshot 
at the tip, and the peculiarly far-back position of the eyes, seen 
to perfection in this bird, in which they are very large ; but the 
bird is as big as a good pigeon, and pigeon-like in its shortness 
of leg and absence of bare skin above the hock, while the plump- 
ness and short tail rather suggest a duck, and the broad wings 
sufficiently explain the un-snipe-like flight. The mottled brown 
plumage, though very characteristic when one knows it, has 
nothing to catch the eye at first sight, except perhaps the three 
broad black bands across the back of the head, which are the 
peculiar coat-of-arms of all true woodcock. 

It is worth while going into these details about so well known 
a bird, for Blanford says black-tailed godwits were sold in the 
Calcutta Bazaar as woodcock, and though this was not so in my 
time, it shows that many people did not know this valued 
sporting bird and table delicacy by sight ; for though this godwit 
is much about the same size in body as a woodcock, and has a 
very similar bill, it has a long neck and typical waders' legs, and 
a quite different plumage from that above described. I only 
once saw a woodcock in the Calcutta Bazaar, and that looked as 
if it had not been killed recently; and, as a matter of fact, a 
woodcock found anywhere away from the hills in India may be 
put down as " lost or strayed," though in Burma they come 
down to the plains much more than in India. In the hill-regions 
they occur as far south as Ceylon and Tenassarim, and woodcock- 
shooting is quite an established sport in the Nilgiris. Mr. 
Stewart Baker sums the matter of the woodcock's Indian 
distribution up by saying that " anywhere between November 1 
and March 1 on hills over 4,000 feet elevation one should be able 
to find woodcock if sufficient time and trouble is given to the 
search, and there are suitable places for the birds to lie up in." 
Such suitable places are where woodland cover is near swampy 
spots in which the birds can feed, and these spots in hills are 
naturally usually by streams, which has given rise to the idea 
that the woodcock especially requires running water. It is, 
everywhere except in the Himalayas, a cold-weather bird, but 
in that range at heights of over ten thousand feet, it is a well- 
known breeder, as it is all across Europe and Northern Asia. 


What with its goodness for food, and its unmistakeable 
appearance — testified to by its many native names, Sinikukra 
in Kumaon and Nepal; Bumped or Dhabha in Chitral ; 
Chinjarole in Chamba; Kangtrukm Manipur; Daodidap gadeha, 
in Cachar ; Simpso Khlan, among the Khasis ; Gherak, in Drosh; 
and Chustruck in Gilgit — this bird always attracts attention 
everywhere, in India as well as in Europe, and the uncertainty' 
of finding it adds to the value put on it. And, as it rises without 
warnmg, and not unless it can help it, and has perforce to 
dodge if its line of flight takes it through trees, shooting it is 
generally a triumph. Hume, however, regarded it in India as 
a sluggish flier and an easy shot, only worth firing at for its 
goodness on the table, but this experience is by no means 
universal, though, like snipe, the bird tends to be tamer and 
easier to hit than in England. 

The fact that the woodcock digs his bill in the ground, and 
swallows his worms something like a duck, not tossing them 
down his throat by an up-jerk of the bill, as a crane or stork 
would do, has no doubt given rise to the idea that he lives by 
suction, this notion being aided by his very rapid digestion. He 
is really a far greater glutton than the much maligned vulture, 
which only sees food, probably, about once a week, and then has 
to scramble for it, while the woodcock, essentially a hermit, 
" does himself well " every night of his life, and can put away 
an incredible number of worms — a tame bird will eat a cupful 
at a sitting. Insects, both in the larval and adult states, are 
also eaten, and even frog-spawn does not come amiss ; the bird's 
nights must be pretty fully occupied in getting enough food, for 
it is strictly a night-bird, and seldom moves by day. 

At evening and grey dawn too, the bird's courting manoeuvres 
are carried on ; his love-sport resembles that of the snipe in 
being aerial, bat he does not drum, but flies to and fro, in 
crescent paths of fifty to two hundred yards, uttering alternate 
croaks and squeaks, and getting lower at each turn, though 
at first above the trees ; this is called " roding " on the continent. 
At such times the birds are easily shot, but this is mere poaching, 
as both parents are needed to attend on the young. These are 
beautiful little creatures with comparatively short bills and 


velvety tortoise-shell down, and when the family has to be 
moved in order to avoid a foe, or even to seek food, the old 
birds, or at any rate the hen, actually carries them, a habit very 
rare in birds. It was long a puzzle how this was done, and one 
picture even depicts the old bird with the baby riding pick-a- 
back, but as a matter of fact observers both in Europe and in 
India have established that they are really held between the 
legs; and they are carried thus even when half-grown. Four 
is the number of the family, the eggs producing them are laid 
on a mere bed of the dead leaves found in the bird's usual 
haunts ; they are of some shade of drab or buff in ground- 
colour, and rather sparingly marked with brown and grey spots 
of various tones and distribution ; they are about an inch and 
three quarters in length. Indian eggs are not smaller than 
European, as Mr. Baker points out, and he also shows that the 
idea that the birds themselves are smaller in India is due to the 
fact that it is the immature birds which are shot, these being 
those which migrate south ; but no Indian specimen has yet 
been shot weighing as much as a pound, which they often do 
in Europe. The idea that the plumage shows any difference 
with age has also been exploded, but some individual birds are 
much greyer than others. 

Painted Snipe. 

* Rostratula capensis. Kane, Kols of Singbhoom. 

When out snipe-shooting, if a big specimen gets up and flies 
straight off with an indolent fluttering flight and legs dangling 
at first — moorhen-fashion, in fact — it may be known at once as 
a painted snipe. Or if hit without the flight being noticed, and 
not killed, the swearing hiss when approached, and pitiful 
attempts at menace by the spreading of its spotted wings, 
again give away the painted fraud; for this bird, the most 
beautiful of all its tribe, although belonging to the same family 
as the true snipe, cannot rightly be referred to the same section, 

RhynclicBa hengalensis on plate. 


but if it must be given a place, bas to take one among tbe 
bumble sandpipers, thougb among tbese it stands quite alone. 

Its bill, curved downwards sbghtly towards tbe end, is as 
distinctive as its fine plumage, of wbich tbe most striking 
points are tbe blue-grey quills and tail, spotted boldly witb buff, 
a coloration unique in tbe bird world. 

Tbe sexes differ much, thougb both have, in addition to the 
same peculiar coloration of the quills, tbe snow-white abdomen ; 
tbe ben, which is larger, is also much the handsomer, her back 
being dark glossy green, witb a streak of white on each shoulder, 
and her neck dark chestnut. 

The cock's back is mottled with buff on a much duller green, 
and be bas a buff ring round tbe eye where the ben bas a pure 
white one ; and, most noticeable of all, bis neck is only drab, 
not chestnut. His daughters, as is usually the case wbere tbe 
hen bird wears, if not the breeches, at any rate the fine feathers, 
have the masculine plumage as their first dress. Young chicks 
differ noticeably from those of the true snipe, being buff witb a 
few distinct longitudinal markings of black, a style of coloration 
more reminiscent of sandpipers. Although the " painter " — to 
use a slangy name, but appropriate as being non-committal witb 
regard to the owner's relationships — is only about as long as 
ordinary snipe, it stands higher on the legs and is much more 
strongly built. It is, in fact, a broad-shouldered, full-chested 
bird, and in this respect differs much from tbe slab-sided rails, 
which it otherwise much resembles in some points, notably its 
slovenly flight and habit of slinking along head down when 
alarmed into cover, and running along therein in preference to 
rising and showing sport. It will also swim voluntarily, as rails 
so usually do. 

It is not, indeed, generally regarded as a sporting bird, at 
any rate when genuine snipe are about to shoot at ; for in 
addition to being a skulker and a slack flier, it is no particular 
delicacy, thougb not unpalatable in default of more savoury 
game ; I should call it about as good as an ordinary pigeon. 

It is a resident, or at least does not migrate more than is 
necessary for any marsh-bird when its haunts are dried up, 
and it is found practically everywhere in our limits except in 


the hills, so long as cover and water are available. Muddy 
ground with plenty of shelter suits it especially, but it does not 
frequent paddy-fields much. In some places it appears decidedly 
sociable, and flocks of up to twenty birds may be met with. 

In the breeding-season it would appear, from information 
given to Mr. Stuart Baker by Cachari shikaries, that the hens 
(which they mistake for cocks) fight vigorously for their mates, 
just as hen hemipodes do; and there seems to be now no doubt 
that the cock painter does the sitting and rearing. Several of 
this sex have been caught on the nests, but never their ladies, 
who, gay in more senses than one, are suspected of roving off in 
search of a fresh liaison when they have got one husband 
comfortably settled on a quadruplet of eggs. The eggs are not 
generally so peg-top-shaped as true snipe's eggs, and are often 
of the usual oval, while they usually vary between the two 
types, with an inclination to the former. They are very hand- 
somely coloured, the ground being of a huffy yellow, shaded with 
green or grey or some other tint, and the spots are large and 
nearly black, with a few markings of pale brown as well. 

The nest is better constructed than that of the true snipes, 
at any rate in many cases; it is made of grass, weeds, &c., and 
is sometimes quite hollowed out if in a natural hollow. It is 
occasionally placed, not on the actual ground, but on thick grass 
or other marsh vegetation a little above it, and though generally 
well concealed, is by no means always so. This is one of the birds 
whose breeding arrangements evidently depend entirely on the 
food-supply ; it may be found nesting all the year round in some 
part of its range, and is even suspected of breeding twice a year 
when its lines are cast in particularly pleasant places. This is 
not surprising, when we consider its free-and-easy matrimonial 
ideas, which relieve the female of all work in rearing, and its 
omnivorous nature, which admits of its feeding freely on paddy 
and other seeds, and paddy leaves, as well as on insects, snails, 
and worms ; for which, by the way, it does not bore, at any rate 
in captivity. 

It seems to be a nocturnal bird, but Mr. Stuart Baker has 
found it feeding in open ploughed fields by day except during 
the hot hours ; but this was at a time when tiny crickets were 


abundant, and I rather think that, as the gentleman alkided 
to suggests, the birds which were feeding freely on them were 
acting abnormally in consequence of this abundance, as birds 
often will, and this may have caused them to become diurnal as 
well as indifferent to cover. 

The note of this bird is said to be like the noise produced 
by blowing into a phial, expressed by the native name Iwne. 
Wood Mason says the male squeaks in answer to the " low, 
regular, hoarse, but rich purr" of the hen ; but Hume, who 
considers the note to be the breeding call, heard no other, 
and personally I have only heard what I call " swearing " from 
captive birds, and noticed no difference. Yet there ought to be 
some, as the female, according to Wood Mason, has a longer 
looped windpipe, a peculiarity which is exaggerated in the 
Australian painted snipe, which otherwise differs little from 
ours. Our bird has an enormous range, being found nearly all 
over Africa and southern and eastern Asia ; in fact, it is 
one of the most widely distributed of the usually non-migratory 

It is curious that so remarkable and easily recognized a 
bird should be so little distinguished by native names ; but it 
is called Ohari in Nepal, and Mailulan by Tamils, while in 
Ceylon the Cingalese distinguish it appropriately as Baja 
Kaswatuwa, the king snipe. 

Next to the snipes the godwits may be considered. 

Blackballed Godwit. 

Limosa belgica^' Gudera, Hindustani. 

With the build of a miniature stork of a pigeon's size, 
the legs, neck and bill all being long, and with the contrast 
between its short, pied tail, black at the tip and white at the 
base, with its drab plumage as it rises, this godwit is a con- 
spicuous bird, and ought to be well known to sportsmen. The 
size mentioned above is only approximate, for this is one of 

* csgocephala on plate. 



the most variable birds ia dimensions that exist, if indeed it 
does not surpass any in this respect. Weights run from less 
than half a pound in the case of the smallest males to within 
an ounce of a pound for big females, the birds of this sex running 
far larger than their mates, though there are plenty of big males 
larger than many females. 

The bill of the godwit is not sharp like a stork's, but blunt 
and overshot at the tip, much like a woodcock's, though not 
sensitive ; one would never expect a bird with this type of beak 
to eat grain, yet this species is quite as fond of grain as any 
partridge or duck, and feeds by preference on rice whenever 
it gets the chance, as well as on millet and grass seed. It 
does, however, also devour worms, grubs, shrimps and shell- 
fish, the ordinary sort of food one would expect a long-billed 
wader to take, in fact. Whatever the food is, the bird's 
flavour is uncommonly good, and Hume considered rice- 
fattened plump specimens as good as the woodcock or jack- 
snipe, though with a different flavour. 

It is fortunate therefore that these birds, though often seen 
in ones or twos, are also commonly found in large flocks, and 
are widely though locally distributed during the cold weather, 
the only time when they are to be found in India. They are 
not to be expected in any numbers before the end of October, 
but few stay on till the beginning of April. During their 
season they may be met with here and there all over the 
Empire, except in the Andamans and Nicobars, but are rare 
in all the southern provinces, and not common east of Bengal. 
The commoner they are, the larger the flocks met with, and the 
easier are the birds to get near. They frequent both the coast 
and inland waters, keeping away from cover, and wading, or resting 
on one leg, in the shallow margins of swamps and j heels. They 
feed, being so fond of rice, in the rice-fields by preference, and 
will do so either by day or night, according to the amount of 
disturbance they have been meeting with. 

Their resting, as opposed to feeding, places are the shallows 

above mentioned, but here also they pick up a good deal of food, 

both on land and in the water. Their flight is straight, fast and 

high, though, like so many excellent fliers, they rise heavily. If 



anj^where near, the white bar on the wing as well as the white 
base of the tail is conspicuous, and their long, straight bills are 
also characteristic. They are very silent in India, but may have 
a whistled alarm-call as they rise. 

They breed in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemi- 
sphere, and at the breeding-time have the plumage mainly 
chestnut, not drab, with some black mottling on the back, and 
barring below ; most birds before leaving us show a good deal 
of this plumage coming on. 

The numerous native names of this bird attest its 
familiarity : The Bengali one is Jaurali, the Nepalese 
Malgujlia, and the Telugu Tondii ulanka ; while, besides, 
Gudera, Gairiya, Jangral, and Khag are Hindustani names. 

Bar-tailed Godwit. 

Limosa lapponica. 

The bar-tailed godwit is a sort of poor relation of the better 
known black-tailed species, smaller and less strikingly coloured, 
the tail lacking the bold contrast of solid black and white in 
two sections, but sunply marked with many transverse bands 
of brown and white, while the body plumage is longitudinally 
marked with dark stripes. 

Although the dimensions of this bird average smaller than 
those of the last, there is some overlapping, the smallest being 
barely lighter than small examples of the black-tailed, though 
the largest do not reach twelve ounces ; these, as in the common 
species, are hens, this sex averaging bigger in the bar-tailed 
godwit also. 

The bar-tailed godwit, although more familiar at home 
nowadays than the black-tailed, is little known in India ; it 
is, however, common along the south coast, where specimens 
have been got in Kurrachee harbour, one as early as Sep- 
tember 29. The bird is only a winter visitant, and the latest 
was got on March 28. At Kurrachee, according to Hume, 
these godwits haunt the extensive mud-banks, mixed up with 
other waders, but flying off in flocks when alarmed. These 
flocks did not exceed twenty birds, and however many were 




cMin <i; z 





together when feeding, they did not go off in one big flock, 
but split up into smaller parties and each took its own line, 
fl5Mng less swiftly than the black-tailed species, though rising 
quicker. They were so wary that he only got six specimens, 
though as many as a hundred birds might be seen on one 
bank at a time, and they were even more silent than the 
other kind, very occasionally uttering their low pipe; their food 
had consisted of small sea animals, and they themselves had the 
peculiar flavour which Hume calls " froggy," reminding him 
of eels from mudd)^ water ; this is curious, as even when near 
the sea the black-tailed godwit retains its excellent flavour. 
Like that bird, the bar-tailed godwit puts on a chestnut 
plumage in the breeding-season, though retaining its charac- 
teristic differences, and it also breeds all along the Northern 
Hemisphere. In winter a race of it even reaches New Zealand 
and is a favourite object of sport with gunners under its Maori 
name of Kual'a, or the very misleading English one of " curlew." 

Snipe-billed God^vit. 

* Macrorhamphus semipalmatus. 

This very rare bird has exactly the bill of the most typical 
snipes, overshot, broader at the tip than the middle, and so soft 
and full of nerve-endings at the tip that it becomes pitted when 
drying after death ; it can be distinguished from all true snipe 
and their painted imitator, however, by having the toes webbed 
at the base, whereas the toes of snipe are free to the very 

In this basal webbing of the toes the snipe-billed godwit 
shows its relationship to the godwits proper, although in these 
the web is less developed, and its plumage is also a godwit's, not 
a snipe's, being in winter variegated with drab and whitish, 
without the rich dark tints and creamy head- and back-stripes 
so usual in snipe, and in summer a bricky red with dark markings 
on the back. It is nearly of the size of small male specimens of 
the bar-tailed godwit, being rather over a foot long, and it 

* Pseudoscolopax on ^\a.te. 


resembles that bird in the barred colouring of its tail, so that 
it might easily be confused with it, were it not for the fact that 
the plumage does not show the distinct dark streaking of the god- 
wit's upper parts, and that the bill is truly snipe-like and not 
tapering, but bulging at the end. 

Extremely little is known about this bird, which has not 
been found commonly anywhere ; it is supposed to breed in 
Siberia, and a few specimens have been got in north-east Asia. 
A few also have been obtained in our Indian Empire in the cold 
weather, at intervals of many years. 

Jerdon seems to have got the first recorded specimen in the 
Madras Market in 1844 ; and since then it has been obtained in 
that of Calcutta by Blyth in 1847, and Hume in 1878; and near 
this time Oates shot a pair in Lower Pegu. This bird has also 
been killed in Assam, and is known to occur in China and as far 
to the south-east as Borneo. But hardly anything is known 
about it, which is the more to be wondered at, as its only near 
relative, the so-called red-breasted snipe {Blacrorhamphus griseus) 
of America, is well known to shore-gunners there, and has even 
strayed to the British Islands. Among other birds of this group 
only greenshanks and golden plover can be noted. 


Totanns glottis. Tlmtimma, Hindustani. 

The greenshank is not only the biggest, but much the best for 
the table, of the various sandpipers or snippets, most of which are 
contemptuously passed over by sportsmen as birds of no account ; 
but as it is really good, and easily recognizable, it is worth men- 
tioning here, especially as the front figure in Hume's plate of 
Armstrong's yellowshanks might easily be taken for it. 

It] is a most graceful, elegant bird, with a straight, slender, 
pointed bill, and greyish plumage with conspicuous white under- 
parts and rump, which last, together with the nearly white tail, 
is noticeable as it gets up with its characteristic shrill cry, 
imitated by its native name in Hindustani ; the Bengali name 
is Gotra. The legs are green and the bill black at the tip 


and clear blue-grey at the root ; the whole length about a 
foot and a quarter, while the bod}' is as big as a small partridge's. 
The greenshank is a winter visitor, staying from September 
to April ; it is distributed all across the northern parts of the 
Old World in summer, and visits Australia as well as India and 
China in winter. In summer plumage the fore and upper parts 
are much streaked with black. The marsh sandpiper {Totanus 
stagnatilis) is like this bird on a small scale. 

Armstrong's Yellowshanks; 

Totanus guttifer* 

Distinguished from the greenshank by its darker tail, rather 
smaller size, and proportionately shorter legs, which are yellower, 
this rare bird is probably often passed over ; it is an East Asiatic 
bird, breeding in the north. In winter it has been got in 
Hainan, and Hume got it in the Calcutta Bazaar, while 
Armstrong also obtained it at the mouth of the Rangoon 
River; but hardly anything is known about it. In summer 
plumage, the back is nearly black. 

To distinguish this bird certainly, attention should be 
paid to the length of the shank from hock to toes, which is 
less than two inches and less than the length of the bill ; whereas 
in the greenshank the shank similarly measured is 2i inches, 
and the bill just equals this. 

Eastern Golden Plover. 

Gharadrius fulvus. Battan, Hindustani. 

The Eastern golden plover, whose yellow-speckled plumage 
and whisthng call make it so distinct from other game-birds 
of the marshes, is a very well known bird in the East, going 
about in flocks, and being found not only in India, Burma and 
Ceylon, but even being common in the Andamans, Nicobars, and 

* haughtoni on plate. 


Laccadives. It becomes, however, rare in Sind, and is not found 
in the hills nor in jungly districts ; it likes flat swampy districts 
near the coasts and large rivers. It is an animal feeder, devour- 
ing insects and worms, and is good eating, though said to be not 
equal to the European golden plover. 

Golden plover come in in September, and, though Jerdon's 
statement that they breed in India is questioned nowadays, 
at any rate they may be found in mid-May. At this time they 
have black under-parts, making a striking and beautiful contrast 
with their yellow-marked backs, and outlined by a pure white 

This plover breeds in the northern parts of the Old World 
from the Yenisei eastward, and also in North America; bat 
the American race is larger than the Eastern. It visits the 
Malay Archipelago, Australia, South America, and even the 
Sandwich Islands, in winter, but is very rare to the west of 
our limits even at that time. It should be noticed that both 
this and the following species, like so many plovers, have no 
hinder toes. 

European Golden Plover. 

Charadrius pluvialis. 

The European golden plover, although a rarit}'^ in India, 
is probably often passed over, for it is so like the Eastern species 
that it is not likely to be distinguished except in the hand ; 
the difference is then readily perceptible, the under-parts of 
the wings being white, whereas they are greyish-brow^n m the 
Indian golden plover. The European golden plover is also a 
heavier bird than the Eastern, although its legs are not any 
longer ; American specimens, however, nearly equal it in size. 
The young of the grey plover {Squatarola helvetica), which 
is found in India in winter as well as almost everywhere 
else, might easily be mistaken for very large golden plovers, 
being spotted with yellow, but they have a small hind toe. 




4 IE 




Indiaiv Water-Rail. 

Rallus indicus. 

This species, with its long bill and toes, short wings, and flat- 
sided body, is an excellent type of the rails in general ; although 
the length of the beak and toes is variable, the general appear- 
ance of a rail is unmistakeable in the hand, and even when at 
large the slinking gait, flicking up of the tail, aversion to leave 
cover, and heavy fluttering flight with legs drooping at first, mark 
off these otherwise insignificant birds at once. 

The Indian water-rail is about as big as a snipe, but its bill 
is shorter and stouter, though still noticeably long ; as in all rails, 
the beak is hard and strong, not soft as in snipes. The plumage 
is very unpretentious, but yet recognizable, with the black 
striping on the brown upper-parts, grey face and breast, and 
black-and-white zebra-barring of the sides. The only bit of bright 
colour is the red at the root of the lower jaw, and even this is 
replaced by a yellowish tint in young birds. 

This rail is simply a local race of the well-known water-rail 
at home {Rallus aquaticus), and this Western typical form has 
sometimes been got in the Himalayas in winter. The only 
differences between the two are, that in the Indian bird there is 
a dark streak running back from the eye, and a wash of brown 
on the breast, these parts being pare grey in the Western water- 
rail. The Indian bird itself is not a resident in India, its home 
being in north-eastern Asia ; but it is a fairly common winter 
visitor to the northern provinces of India, and ranges as far as 
Arrakan. It is found in grass or rush cover on wet ground, and 
is difficult to put up ; its food consists of small snails, insects, 
worms, &c., but it also takes some vegetable food, seeds, leaves, 
and bulbs. These long-billed rails may be more insectivorous 
than the shorter-billed kinds, but rails as a family are quite as 
omnivorous as the game birds and ducks. The breeding call- 
note of the European water-rail is a groaning sound, called 
" sharming " ; the Indian bird croaks like a frog, but probably 
has a similar note in the breeding season. 


Blue-breasted Banded Rail. 

HypotcBJiidia striata. Kana-koU, Tamil. 

This very pretty bird is also about the size of a snipe, with 
a distinctly long bill ; the face and under-parts are grey, much 
as in the Indian water-rail, and the flanks similarly barred with 
black-and-white, but there is a distinctive point in the cap of 
chestnut covering the head and running down the neck, and in 
the broken white pencilling on the brown back. This white 
marking is wanting in young birds, which also have the cap less 
richly tinted, but it soon begins to develop. Hens are less richly 
coloured than cocks. 

Although the bill of this bird is long, it is not so much so as 
in the Indian water-rail, and is thicker for its length. It is a 
widely distributed bird in our Empire, except in the North-west, 
but in the Andamans is represented by a larger race — the so- 
called Andaman banded rail {Hypotmnidia ohscurior), which is 
much darker all over, the cap being rather maroon than chestnut, 
the breast slaty, and the back blacker. 

The banded rail is not quite such a skulker as the water-rail, 
though it frequents the same sort of grass and mud cover on wet 
ground, and feeds in a similar way ; now and then four or five 
birds together may be seen out feeding on turf or grassy banks 
near the rice fields or wet thickets in the early morning, but 
commonly they go singly or in pairs. Like button-qnail, they 
will rise to a dog readily enough the first time, but will risk 
capture rather than get up again ; and they do not fly many yards 
in any case. They can swim if put to it, but are not water-birds 
in the sense that moorhens and some of the crakes are. 

This species is not apparently migratory, though a wide-rang- 
ing bird, and found throughout south-east Asia to Celebes. It 
nests at the water's edge in grass, rice, or similar cover, making 
a pile of rushes and grass, and laying about half a dozen white 
or pink eggs with reddish and mauve markings of various sizes, 
chiefly towards the large end. They may be found as early as 
May, or as late as October. This bird is called Kana-koH in 
Telugu ; in Burmese Yay-gyet. 

£«- "^tS!^- 


Banded Crake. 

Balliiia superciliaris* 

The banded crake, although barred with black-and-white 
below like the long-billed rails, has a shorter bill and toes than 
these birds, though the beak has not the almost fowl-like form 
found in some of the short-billed crakes and the moorhens ; it 
is rather over an inch long, the bird being about as large as a 

The general colour above is chestnut in front, and greenish- 
brown on the back ; but only in adult males is the chestnut 
developed all over the head and neck ; young birds are brown 
even here, and hens, except perhaps old ones, have the crown and 
back of the neck brown. The legs are grey, and the bill brown 
and green. 

The banded crake is seldom found outside Ceylon ; but it 
is believed to have been found breeding about Karwar and 
Khandalla, and specimens have been got in many other localities 
in the Empire, from Oudh to Singapore, so that it might be 
expected to occur anywhere. Even in Ceylon it is only to be 
found from October to February, and does not breed in the 
island so far as is known. While there it inhabits the hills, and 
though often found in the usual haunts of rails, in cover by 
streams and paddy fields, it is not confined to w^et ground. The 
setting in of the north wind is the signal for its arrival in 
Ceylon, where it first appears on the west coast. The incoming 
birds behave as if they had made a long journey, being very tired 
and taking refuge in all sorts of queer places. Layard says that 
he found one in the well of his carriage, one in his gig-apron, 
and another in a shoe under his bed ! The bird, in fact, seems 
to have quite a mania for coming indoors. 

When flushed this bird quite commonly takes to a tree, and 
the nests attributed to it, and found in the mainland localities 
above mentioned during the monsoon, were placed above ground 
on bamboos, tangled herbage, bushes, or stumps. The eggs 
were creamy-white and unspotted, thus being abnormal for the 
family, since spotted eggs are general among rails. 

* euryzonoides on plate. 


Malayan Banded Crake. 

*Ballina fasciata. 

The Malayan banded crake can easily be distinguished from 
the rest of our rails with zebra-barred flanks by its bright red 
legs ; other rails with legs so coloured have not the black-and- 
white side-stripes. The present species is of a pretty uniform 
reddish-brown in front and above, and is a smaller bird than the 
banded crake, only measuring about nine inches. 

As its name implies, it is a Malayan bird, but extends to 
Karennee, and in the other direction to Celebes. It is found in 
Tenasserim, but not commonly, and likes the vicinity of culti- 
vation if this provides suitable cover ; rice fields are favourite 
haunts when surrounded by scrub, but not when situated among 
dry forest without undergrowth. 

Andamanese Banded Crake. 

Ballina canningi. 

In many cases the Andamanese representatives of Continental, 
Indian and Burmese birds can hardly be called more than local 
races, but some, like the present bird, are very distinct. 
Although its black-and-white barred sides and brow^n general 
colour show its relationships at once, it is far bigger than our 
other two banded crakes, being about as large as the common 
grey partridge. It stands high on its legs, and has the bill and 
toes comparatively short, and the tail over three inches long, so 
that its proportions are less typically rail-like than usual. The 
brown of its body is deep rich mahogany-red, and the black- 
and-white bars of the sides and under-parts are very clear and 
striking ; moreover, although the feet are only olive-green, the 
bill is of the clearest apple-green, and looks like jade. Thus, 
even if occurring on the mainland, this handsome crake would 
be noticeable not only among other members of the rail family, 
but among birds in general. 

In its native islands the crake frequents forests, and is not 

* Porzana on plate. t Eiirijzoiui on plate. • 












to be seen in the day-time unless driven out of its cover, when 
it flies slowly and heavily. Like rails in general, it keeps near 
water, or at least on moist ground. It feeds on insects, and can 
be taken in snares baited with shrimps. The nest is on the 
ground, and the eggs are spotted with purple and maroon 
markings on a ground of white or stone-colour with a pinkish 

Spotted Crake. 

Porzana maruetta. Gurguri khairi, Bengali. 

Known in Telugu as Venna inudikoli, the possession of even 
two native names shows that this pretty bird is fairly well 
known, though only a winter visitor. It is short-billed but long- 
toed, and about the size of a snipe ; the speckling of white all 
over the plumage is characteristic, the ground-colour of this 
being of a common rail pattern, streaky-brown above and grey 
below in adults, though young" birds have a brown breast. 
The sides are vertically barred, but the dark interspaces between 
the white bars are grey, not black ; the yellow bill is also a 
noticeable point. 

The spotted crake arrives in India in September, and leaves 
about April ; it mostly visits northern India, though in 
Jerdon's time it seems to have been more generally distri- 
buted ; to the coast it extends as far as Arrakan. It par- 
ticularly frequents rice-fields, rushes and sedge, and has a 
great objection to exposing itself in the open, while if it is 
forced up, it drops after a flight of about a score of yards, 
and declines to appear again. It is worth shooting if come 
across, as it is good eating, according to Jerdon. It feeds 
on water-insects, snails, as well as on seeds and herbage. 

Generally it is found singly, and in any case not more 
than a pair seem to keep about the same spot. The call- 
note, mostly heard at night, is a clear loud " kiveet," according 
to Dresser. This is a widely distributed bird, breeding from our 
own islands to Central Asia, and, in spite of its great reluctance 
to fly in the ordinary way, appears to cross the high Karakorum 
range in its southward migration to the Indian Empire. 


Little Crake. 

Porzana parva. 

The little crake is a short-billed and long-toed little bird 
about as big as a lark, with streaky brown rather lark-like 
plumage, slightly variegated with white above, and grey below 
on the old cock, while the under-parts of hens and young birds 
are buff, shading into brown behind, where the plumage is 
diversified with white cross-bars in all. Young birds are more 
freely barred, and show more white on the upper-parts. 

The little crake is the smallest of our rails except the next 
species, but is a comparatively bold bird, being found running 
on water-lily leaves and swimming in the water between 
them ; it also appears to dive quite freely, and is altogether more 
of a water-bird and less of a swamp-runner than most rails. It 
is also a pretty good flyer as rails go, and is only a winter visitor 
to India, and then only to the extreme North-west, its chosen 
haunts being the broads in Sind, where it feeds on water-insects. 

This, like the spotted crake, is a well-known bird in Europe, 
and does not extend farther than Central Asia to the eastward. 

Eastern Baillon's Crake. 

* Porzana pusilla. Jhilli, Nepalese. 

This little bird is even smaller than the little crake, but 
closely resembles it, having a black-streaked, white-splashed 
upper-surface and under-parts grey in front and with white 
cross-bars behind; but in the present, bird the cock and hen 
are alike, and it is only the young which differ in having the 
breast and throat bufdsh instead of grey. But the easiest way 
to distinguish these two tiny crakes, or pigmy moorhens as they 
might be called, from their habits, is to remember that in the 
Eastern Baillon's crake the first wing-quill has a white edge* 
whereas in the little crake this is not the case. 

This Eastern race of Baillon's crake of Europe, the original 
Porzana hailloni, has a dark-brown streak along the face which is 

* Crex hailloni on plate. 


wanting in the Western form ; it is generally distributed in India 
and Burma, and is generally resident, though a good many 
come in in the cold weather from countries to the northward. 
It reaches not only Ceylon, but the Andamans, and breeds as 
far south as Tavoy. 

In the plains it may be found nesting up to September, 
but though nesting begins about the same time in the Himalayas 
— in June — it does not go on so late there. Wild rice, or rice 
cultivatipii, is its favourite haunt, although it is found wherever 
there is low cover by the waterside, and it shifts about the 
country a good deal in order to find these desirable conditions. 
It swims and runs on aquatic plants like the little crake, and 
dives readily if pressed ; but it is shyer, and comes out less into 
the open, keeping more to swampy places than the open water 
itself. It is a sociable bird, several being usually found near 
together, and is also rather noisy, the voice being, according 
to Hume " a single note, repeated slowly at first, and then 
several times in rapid succession, winding up with a single 
and somewhat sharper note in a different tone, as if the bird 
was glad that the performance was over." This call is 
chiefly heard during the breeding-season. In feeding this 
species is less exclusively insectivorous than the little crake, 
taking wild rice and other seeds freely, as well as greenstuff. 
The nest is well concealed among rushes, wild rice, or marsh 
grass, and is made of that sort of vegetation. The eggs number 
about half a dozen, and have faint but thick dark frecklings on 
a greenish-drab ground. 

Whity-brown Crake. 

* Poliolimnas cinereus (Brit. Mus. Cat. Birds, vol. xxiii). 

This small crake, considerably less in size than a snipe, is 
recognizable among its kind by its very plain colouring of light 
brown, shaded with grey in front, above, and white below ; the 
legs are green. The young have none of the grey shade about 
the head. 

* Porzana cinerea on plate. 


The whity-brown crake is a bird of the Far East, ranging from 
the Malay Peninsula east even to the islands of the Pacific. 
In its Malayan haunts it has been observed to prefer cultivated 
land to the wilds, and is very numerous in autumn in the Singa- 
pore paddy-fields, especially in those richly manured v\nth urban 
refuse. Hume figured it along with the Malayan banded crake 
owing to its having been supposed to have occurred in Nepal, 
a mistaken idea based on a wrong identification, for which he 
was not responsible, and which he discovered after the .bird had 
been drawn. 


Crex i^ratcnsis. 

The common corncrake or landrail of Europe, which ranges 
east to Central Asia, and is a great wanderer in spite of its 
ordinary reluctance to fly when disturbed, is nevertheless very 
rare in India, its usual winter quarters being in Africa. It has, 
however, been reported from our area, and was actually once 
obtained in Gilgit in early October, so that it is worth mentioning 
that it is rather larger than a quail, with a short bill, and chestnut 
wings contrasting conspicuously with its streaky-brown upper- 
parts. It shows the barring on the sides so usual in rails, but the 
darker bars are only light brown ; the rest of the under-parts are 
plain light brown, the breast and cheeks being grey in the summer 
dress. This is the only rail really esteemed in England, being 
very fat and good eating, though several of the family are habitu- 
ally shot in America and on the Continent. The peculiar double 
call, well rendered by Bechstein as " arrp, schnarrj]," is very 
characteristic of the bird in its summer haunts, but is not 
likely to be heard in India. 

Ruddy Crake. 

* Amaurornis fitscus. 

This little crake, about the size of a quail, resembles the 
Malayan banded crake in having red legs and to some extent in 
colour, being chestnut on the face, neck and under-parts, but 

* Porzana on plate. 







it has no black-and-white barring, and the back of the head and 
upper-parts generally are olive-brown : in young birds this brown 
tint replaces the chestnut on the fore-parts. 

Except in the extreme North-west, it is found over India, 
Burma, and, in winter, Ceylon. It extends through Assam to 
Pegu and Arrakan. In some parts of India it is, however, little 
known, being only recorded from Mysore and the Wynaad in the 

It is sociable and fond of weed-covered ponds, on the vegetation 
of which it runs about, coming freely out of the cover on the 
banks in the early morning, and feeding on the insects to be 
found on the leaves. It rises readily enough when disturbed, 
though some specimens prefer to dive and others to run to cover. 
In more open water it swims about like a moorhen. Besides 
insects, it eats seeds and greenstuff, and takes grit freely, like 
rails in general. By day it hides among the fringing herbage of 
ponds or cultivated land of a wet character. 

It breeds among waterside herbage like Baillon's crake, but 
makes a rather bigger nest ; the eggs, to be found from July to 
September, are about half a dozen in number, with reddish and 
dull mauve spots on a background of tinted white. Outside 
India it is found in China and Japan, and in the other direction 
as far as Java. 

Elwcs's Crake. 

* Amaurornis hicolor. 

At several thousand feet elevation in Sikkim, as also in 
the Khasi Hills, there occurs the present species, distinguished 
from our other small crakes by the large amount of slate in its 
plumage, which is only diversified by the brown back and wings, 
all the neck as well as the face and under-parts being grey. The 
legs are of a pale dull red, and the size is about that of a quail. 

The bird has been found in the usual haunts of rails, in cover 
alongside pools, swamps, and wet rice-fields. It may probably be 
found to go lower down in winter and to extend some distance 
along the hills, birds of this kind being generally little noticed. 

* Porzana on plate. 


Brown Crake. 

*AmaiLrornis akool. 

The brown crake is a very plain, dingy bird, its dark greenish- 
brown phimage being only shghtly reheved by a white throat, 
and grey face, neck, breast, and belly ; the legs are dull red, or in 
young birds reddish-brown. The bird in Hume's plate with 
a black face is a young one which has some of the black down of 
the nestling coat — almost always black in rails — still remaining 
on the head, which is not uncommonly the case in otherwise 
fledged specimens of this species. The brown crake is large for 
a bird of this group, approaching the grey partridge in size. This 
is a North Indian bird, ranging along the foot of the Himalayas 
to the Khasi Hills, and occurs as far south as Mysore ; but it 
is only common in the north. It is not migratory, and breeds 
from May to September; nesting, it is said, twice during this 
period. It feeds particularly on small animal life, and is not 
so much of a skulker as many of its tribe, and early in the 
morning may be found in the vicinity of water, running about on 
the bare ground or rocks, and is frequently seen swimming. 
Pools, streams, and open wells, with but little cover, are frequented 
by it, and it often perches ; it is, indeed, found in the sort of 
situations a moorhen frequents. It nests in high grass or on 
bushes, and lays about six brown-spotted pinkish-white eggs. 
Outside India it is found in China, but has not turned up in 
the intermediate countries. 

Whitc-brcastcd Watcr-hcn. 

Amaurornis i^hcenicura. Daicak, Hindustani. 

The contrast between the black upper and white under-parts 
of this bird, which is besides of a fair size for a rail, being about 
as big as a partridge though much slimmer, make it a con- 
spicuous object whenever it comes out of its cover. This it 
pretty frequently does, for it is the most indifferent to human 
proximity of all our rails, and is quite common, not only in 

* Porzana on plate. 



cultivated places, but in the actual neighbourhood of houses and 
in gardens. It is also, though at home by the waterside and not 
averse to swimming, not so confined to watery places as most of 
the family, but frequently seen in hedges and among crops, away 
from water. 

It is not only the most familiar, but about the most widely 
distributed of all our rails, living nearly everywhere within our 
limits, even in the Andamans, where it is quite abundant. It 
is, however, rare in the North-west and does not ascend the 
Himalayas, though found in the swamps at their bases. Although 
less timid than rails in general, it has all their essential character- 
istics — fluttering flight with hanging legs, flicking up of the tail, 
which in this case displays the chestnut patch underneath, 
running, swimming, and perching powers, and omnivorous 

The rail habit of being more heard than seen is also very well 
developed in this species, for it is a very Boanerges among birds, 
and can literally roar down all the other waterfowl. It generally 
nests off the ground, on trees, reeds, &c., but makes the usual 
style of nest constructed by rails, of grass and reeds, sometimes 
with a twig foundation. It may commence breeding in May, or 
do so as late as September, according to the district it lives in. 
The eggs are spotted with reddish-brown and dull, pale purplish 
on a buff ground, and range from four to twice that number. 
The down of the chicks is black, and the j'oung birds in their first 
feather are rusty above and smutty below, while retaining the 
general pattern of old ones. This familiar bird ranges east to 
Formosa and Celebes ; it has many Indian names : Boli-kodi in 
Telugu, Tannin or Kanung-holi in Tamil, Kaul-gowet in 
Burmese ; while in Oudh it is called Kinati, Kurahi in Sind, 
and Kureyn by the Gonds. 


Gallinula cJiloropus. Jal-murghi, Hindustani. 

The familiar moorhen of home waters is also not uncommon 
in India, though not so familiar or widely distributed as the 
white-breasted water-hen ; its scarlet forehead-patch and white 


under-tail feathers, contrasting with its dark plumage, are quite 
as distinctive of it here as in Europe. Yearling birds, however, 
are lighter in colour and have no red on the head, though they 
show the white stern. The Bengali name is Dakali-paira, and 
the Telugu Jumhu- or Boli-kodi. 

Moorhens breed in India, making a large nest among aquatic 
herbage ; the eggs are spotted with chestnut and mauve on a 
greyish-buff ground, and as many as nine may be laid. The food 
bill of this bird is as extensive as that of the common hen, 
insects, worms, herbages, and grain, all being consumed. It is 
not often eaten, but goes well enough if the rank and greasy 
skin is removed. The note is very characteristic, a harsh kur- 
rek ; the flight heavy and low by day as a rule, though at night 
the bird travels long distances. 


Fulica atra. Dasari, Hindustani. 

The moorhen is nearly as aquatic as the ordinary ducks, and 
the coot, which is abundant in India and Burma, though absent 
from Ceylon, bears the same relation to it as the diving ducks do 
to these, keeping almost constantly afloat and getting much of 
its food below water ; it dives with a spring like the whistling 
ducks, and especially searches for water snails ; it also feeds on 
weeds, and I have seen one capture a small fish, not by diving, 
but by suddenly ducking its head under. Grain is also readily 
devoured if obtainable. Coots are in fact constantly seen in 
association with ducks in India, and may easily be, and no 
doubt often are, mistaken for them ; but the entirely black 
plumage, and white bill and forehead-patch are very distinct 
differences from any duck, and even when these points are not 
noticeable, the rounded back and small head carried well forward 
distinguish these swimming rails from the duck family. Coots 
also rise less readily than most ducks, and though often exceed- 
ingly numerous, get up individually and not in flocks. They 
are often so mixed up with the ducks they associate with that 
many may be killed by accident ; few people would make them 
a special object of pursuit, as they are not birds to eat when 





ducks are obtainable, having a rank, oily skin, and a great 
tendency to ossification in the drumstick tendons ! 

Hume, however, says that coots as well as rails and crakes 
" will furnish a savoury enough dish if, instead of plucking them, 
you skin them and then soak the bodies for a couple of hours in 
cold water (which should be changed at least twice) before 
putting them into the stew-pan, with onions, and, if you can 
get it, sage." 

When brought to hand, the coot, if not killed dead, will give 
plenty of proof that it is not a duck by the vigour of its scratches; 
the feet are not only provided with particularly strong claws, 
but are webbed in a curious manner, with a separate scalloped 
bordering web to each toe, for no rail, not even such a very 
aquatic species as this, has any web hetiveen the toes. Coots 
walk quite well, but are not often to be seen doing so ; they nest 
among the aquatic vegetation, or even on the bottom of shallow 
water, building the nests up into islands, and using a large 
quantity of material, chiefly rushes. The eggs are pale buff or 
drab with copious sprinklings of black, and about as big as hens' 
eggs ; the young chicks are black, but show bright tinting of red, 
blue, and yellow about the heads. The breeding season is a 
rather extended one, beginning in May with the birds inhabiting 
the hills, while in the plains birds are to be found nesting after 
June ; but a large proportion of the coots to be found in India in 
winter are only migrants from the north, the bird having a wide 
range all across the old world, and being familiar in Britain 
among other European countries, though not nearly so common 
as the moorhen. Its familiarity to natives is attested by its 
names, Burra godan in Burmah, and Bolihodi in the Telugu 
language, while other Hindustani names besides that given above 
are Khekari, Khuskul, and Ari. 


Povpliyrio ijoliocephalus. Kaim, Hindustani. 

The largest of our rails, and distinguished by its blue colour 
not only from them, but from all our other waterfowl, the 
porphyrio is a bird which immediately attracts attention by its 


great beauty, the azure, cobalt, and sea-green plumage being 
finely set off by the scarlet bill, forehead and legs, and the white 
under the tail. Some specimens have grey heads, but the 
presence or absence of this hoary colouring is individual. The 
bird is often called purple moorhen or coot, but differs from both 
in several points besides size and colour, notably in the great 
thickness of the beak, with which it can give a very severe bite, 
and in the curious habit, so remarkable in a waterfowl, of using 
its foot to hold its food, chiefly vegetable — like a parrot. 
Although always found near water, it does not swim much, 
and has the true rail love for cover ; it perches freely and climbs 
well among the reeds. 

It is found all over our Empire, and of late years has even 
been recorded as far west as the Caspian ; it is resident, and 
nests during the rains ; the eggs are about the same size as the 
coot's, but richer in colour, having a reddish tinge both in 
ground-colour and spots. The other Hindustani names of this 
favourite bird, which is not usually shot, though many specimens 
are sent to Europe alive, are all apparently variants of that given 
above — Khima, Kharim, and Kalim ; in Ceylon the names are 
Indula, Kukula, Sannary, and Kittala. 


Gallicrex cinereus. Kora, Hindustani. 

The water-cock, as it is to be met with in the shooting- 
season, is a game-looking bird with light brown plumage, 
diversified by streaks on the back, and bars on the under-parts 
of a darker shade. It has the usual long legs and toes of a rail, 
and a leaf-shaped bare patch on the forehead. Although much 
lighter in build, the male is nearly as big as a coot, the hen being 
little larger than a moorhen — a sex difference and unique among 
the rails, as i^ also the male's assumption of a striking nuptial 
dress ; in this attire he is of dull black on the head, neck, and 
under-parts, while the bare patch on his forehead, which, like the 
legs, is red, swells up until it becomes at the end a pointed horn. 
The female has legs of a dusky green. 








The kora, as this bird is generally called, is widely distributed 
with us, but although it ranges as far north as Japan outside our 
area, it keeps in our Empire to the warmer districts ; it is a 
thorough marsh-bird, but seems to be rare in some localities 
where it was formerly common, for Bengal was credited with 
harbouring plenty of the species, and yet I never saw half a 
dozen specimens during the whole time I was in Calcutta. The 
kora is quite a good table-bird, so that if it is getting scarce this 
is a pity ; but being nocturnal, it is not likely to come under 
notice in the same way that the diurnal coot and moorhen do. 

The breeding-season is during the rains, and the eggs are 
greyish-buff with mauve and chocolate spots ; the nest is among 
aquatic herbage. Besides Kora, Kengra is Hindustani name for 
this bird ; in Ceylon it is called WiUikuJculu, Kettala, or Tannir- 
koli, while the Burmese name is Boiin-dote. Its familiarity to 
natives is no doubt due to the fact that in some districts of the 
North-east it is reared by hand and kept as a fighting bird. 

Sarus Crane. 

Grus antigone. Sarus, Hindustani. 

Hume quite rightly says that this bird is not properly a 
game bird at all, but simply comes in as a relative of the cranes 
which may be so reckoned ; and this is just as well, for it is one 
of the most conspicuous and ornamental birds in the country. 
A " common object of the wayside " to the traveller by rail, its 
tall grey figure, about five feet high, surmounted by the bare 
scarlet head, cannot escape observation. Almost invariably a 
pair are seen together, and the hen can be distinguished by being 
about a head shorter than her mate, who is about five feet long, 
and stands about as high ; for being a bird of very erect carriage 
the sarus looks all its size, and appears to be the biggest bird in 
India, though the great bald adjutant stork {Leptoptllus duhius) 
exceeds it in measurements, and the great bustard, no doubt, 
in weight. 

It is worth noting that the neck in this species, just below 


the bare scarlet part, becomes white in the breeding season, and 
the long wing-plumes also get whiter then ; for the existence of 
this white in the plumage, and the general paler tone of the same, 
are the chief distinctions between the Indian and Burmese types 
of this crane. The sarus (often miscalled cyrus !) is practically 
purely an Indian bird, and is not known to occur in Transcaspia 
and Persia, though, curiously enough, sometimes turning up in 
Russia. Even in India it is far from being universally distri- 
buted, for it does not range into the hills, except in Nepal, 
where, according to Hume, it has been introduced. Nor does it 
occur in Mysore or any district south of this, while it is rare in 
Sind. In the open country of northern India it is well known 
in all well-watered districts, and rather prefers cultivated land ; 
it is extraordinarily tame for such a large bird, but this is due to 
the fact that it is very rarely molested ; its flesh is not esteemed, 
although the liver is good, and natives do not like its being shot, 
as they admire it, although not considering it at all sacred. 

In case there is any real reason to kill so harmless and 
beautiful a bird, the pair should both fall together, for there is 
told about this bird the same tale that is related of the little 
parrots known as " love-birds," that if one is killed the survivor 
dies of grief. Love-birds do not always do this, nor does the 
sarus ; generally, as Hume says, after haunting the scene of its 
bereavement for some days or even weeks, and calling continually, 
it disappears, " and," he says, " it is to be hoped, finds a new mate, 
but on two occasions I have actually known the widowed bird 
to pine away and die : in the one case my dogs caught the bird 
in a field where it had retreated to die, literally starved to death ; 
in the other the bird disappeared, and a few days later we found 
the feathers in a field where it had obviously fallen a prey to 
jackals." No doubt, many birds having pined till they cannot 
recover, fall victims in this way ; a healthy sarus has httle to 
fear from vermin, at any rate if there is water in which it can 
more readily stand on its defence. Dogs are easily beaten oft' 
from the great nest, which is a sort of artificial island in many 
cases, built up on a rise in the bottom of some bit of water, 
where half a foot to two feet of foundation may have to be laid 
before the nest rises above water, though, of course, actual islets 


are also selected. The nest is made of reeds, rushes and straw, 
and is raised more or less above the water according to circum- 
stances, the egg-bed being about a foot out of it. In times of 
rains the birds raise the nest ; in fact, their nesting proceedings 
are much hke those of the familiar tame swan at home. Some- 
times the nest is built among high reeds, on a platform of these 
bent and trodden down. 

They seldom show fight when their home is invaded, but 
Hume records a case in which a hen brooding eggs, one of which 
was actually hatching, stayed on the nest making ferocious 
digs at a native sent by him to investigate, till he had to flap 
her in the face with his waist-cloth to get her off ; and Mr. D. 
Dewar, in his book, " Glimpses of Indian Birds," describes how, 
when a man of his captured a chick, the cock bird deliberately 
stalked them, and approached within four feet, only to be driven 
off by hostile demonstrations. His description of the chick is 
worth quoting: "It was," he says, "about the size of a small 
bazaar fowl, and had perhaps been hatched three days. It was 
covered with soft down ; the down on the upper parts was of a 
rich reddish-fawn colour, the back of the neck, a band along 
the backbone, and a strip on each wing being the places where 
the colour was most intense ; these were almost chestnut in 
hue. The lower parts were of a cream colour, into which the 
reddish fawn merged gradually at the sides of the body. The 
eyes were large and black. The bill was of pink hue and broad 
at the base where the yellow lining of the mouth showed. The 
pink of the bill was most pronounced at the base, fading almost 
to white at the tip. The legs and feet were pale pink, the toes 
being slightly webbed." 

Even when the young bird is fledged the head remains 
covered with this chestnut down for a time ; the beak in adults 
is dull green, as is the scalp, but the legs are always pink, 
though the eyes become red. The wings do not fledge till the 
bird is of a good size, and the old ones, at any rate in captivity, 
lose all their quills at once, like geese, when moulting, so that 
they must depend on fighting enemies rather than flight during 
this season ; but no doubt they seek localities where defence 
is easy. 


At the best of times they fly but .Httle ; if there be nothing 
such as a fence or copse to hide a possible enemy, they will 
rather walk a mile or two than fly, and when on the wing do 
not rise above twenty yards even in a five-mile flight, according 
to Hume. No doubt, however, their powers of flight are capable 
of far greater exercise, or they could not get so far as Russia. 
The call of the sarus is very characteristic, and the male and 
female sing, as it were, together. First the male, raising his 
head and bill perpendicularly, and lifting the wings at ' the 
elbows without spreading them — much like an angry swan — 
gives out a loud single note ; the hen instantly follows, the cock 
replies, till the appalling duet, which can be heard two miles, is 
finished. It will be gathered from what has been said that the 
sarus is a pairing rather than a flocking bird, but the young 
remain sometimes with their parents ; as two or even three eggs 
are laid, they should make up a little flock, but, as a matter of 
fact, often only one young bird is reared, a result to which the 
numerous birds of prey probably contribute, in spite of the 
watchfulness of the parents, both of which carefully attend the 
young ones ; these are active, not helpless nestlings. 

The eggs are very large, long, and hard-shelled ; they vary, 
but may be nearly four and a half inches in length. They are 
spotted with pale yellowish-brown and purple on a white, pale 
sea-green, or cream-coloured ground. 

The food of this crane is sought either on land or in 
shallow water, but it is less of a marsh feeder than our other 
species, and spends more time out of water than in it as a rule, 
except when nesting. Small animals, such as lizards, frogs and 
insects, form a large proportion of the food, though much is also 
vegetable ; and in captivity the bird readily eats raw meat as 
well as grain. 

The only native name that needs be noted in addition to the 
ordinary one — Sarus — is the Kliorsang of the Assamese, in 
whose country the bird finds its eastern limit. 









Burmese Sarus. 

Grus sharpii. Gyo-gya, Burmese. 

Although nowadays classed as a distinct species, the sarus of 
Burma differs very little from the Indian bird, being merely 
darker grey, with no white anywhere ; it has a dingier aspect 
altogether, and is inclined to be smaller, while the hairs about 
the throat are very scanty. 

This is the large crane, not only of Burma, but of the Malay 
Peninsula, Siam, and Cochin-China, and the older accounts, such 
as those of Hume, of the sarus occurring in these countries, 
must be taken as referring" to this species ; but the common 
sarus is the crane of Assam, judging from a skin in the Indian 
Museum in my time, which I was able to compare with another 
of the present form from Upper Burma, also in the collection. 

Mynheer F. Blaauw, in his valuable monograph on the 
cranes, gives an interesting account of the breeding of this bird. 
He says : " The Eastern sarus crane has been found breeding in 
the months of August and September, and it probably also nests 
later in the year, as Davison found young birds in Burma, still 
unable to fly, as late as December. Wardlaw Eamsay, who 
records its breeding near Tonghoo, tells us that, although he did 
not find the eggs himself, eggs were brought to him by the 
Burmese. They described the nest as a pile of weeds and mud, 
situated generally in the midst of a swamp. On September 29, 
a Burmese brought him an egg and a newly hatched chick . . . 
the little bird was given into the charge of a common hen with 
doubts as to the result. She, however, took the greatest care 
of it, and showed great wrath if anyone attempted to touch it. 
On the morning of the eleventh day, however, the little creature 
died. When just out of the shell it devoured worms greedily." 

Davison found that the young birds displayed great cunning 
in taking cover, but would resort to the plan traditionally 
ascribed to the ostrich, of hiding their heads when fairly run 
down in the open. These birds were destructive to the young 
plants in paddy nurseries, and he never saw them eating any- 
thing else. They themselves were considered a great luxury- 
by Davison's friends in Moulmein, to whom he used to send 


them. It may be that it is on account of being shot for food, 
although the Burmese do not like them being killed, that the 
disposition of this race of sarus is different from that of the 
Western form ; it is sh}^ and wary, needing to be approached by 
a bullock cart, or in the rains by a canoe. The hen has a silly 
habit of standing on top of her nest at daylight, and calling — 
a proceeding calculated to give away her family affairs. The 
eggs of this sarus appear to run lighter than that of the other, 
having only a few rufous blotches, or even being all white. 

But the only thing really distinctive about the habits of 
this bird is that it is to some extent migratory, assembling in 
numerous bands and taking long and high flights. Anderson, at 
Ponsee, saw them passing in V-shaped flocks in the direction 
of the Burmese valley, flying so high as to only appear as specks. 
Nine such flocks, each numbering about sixty birds, assembled 
above the high mountain where he was camped, and commingled, 
with aerial evolutions, breaking up into two masses, and then 
into the V-formation again in smaller groups. Nothing like this 
is ever seen with the Indian sarus. Davison also saw bands, 
numbering up to sixty birds in each, arrive near Thatone in 
August ; there is evidently a good deal to be made out about the 
migration of this bird, as in the case of so many tropical species 
wrongly believed to be stationary. 

Common Crane. 

Grus communis* Kullung, Hindustani. 

One of the points in which India recalls classical times in 
Europe is the yearly winter visitation of the common crane, an 
enemy to the farmer, just as it was in the time when .^sop's 
fables were written. Everyone knows the fate of the misguided 
stork whose virtue did not save him when caught with the cranes, 
and Virgil complains of cranes as well as geese in enumerating 
the troubles of the Roman agriculturist. 

At home the crane is now the rarest of visitants, and the 
common heron often usurps its name; and as this bird is found in 

* cinerea on plate. 

f ' 


India too, it may be pointed out, for the benefit of beginners, 
that though both are big tall grey birds, the crane may be distin- 
guished on the ground by the long curved plumes which look 
like a tail, but really grow on the wings, and especially on the 
wing by the neck being extended, as well as the legs, herons 
always drawing the neck back when they fly. 

When near at hand — which a crane is not likely to be, if 
healthy— it will be seen that it is a much bigger bird than the 
grey heron, nearly four feet long in fact, and has no crest 
or breast-plumes, but a bald red patch on the head. The 
sober grey of the whole of the body-plumage is only relieved by 
more or less black on the ends of the wings, and by bands of 
white along the sides of head and neck. The sexes are alike, 
but the young of the year can be distinguished by a mixture of 
buff in their plumage, especially on the head and neck, and their 
less developed wing-plumes. 

The bird in the plate, by the way, is much too dark and dull 
a grey, and has been given a well-developed hind-toe like a 
heron's, whereas this toe is really very small and quite useless, 
cranes, at any rate our Indian species, not being perchers like 
herons. They are also much more sociable, being always in 
flocks, usually ranging in number from a score in the south, 
where the birds are nearing the limit of their range, to several 
hundred in the Northern Provinces. This crane's southern 
limit appears to be Travancore, and its special haunts are the 
Northern Provinces of our Indian Empire, while it is not known 
in Burma or Ceylon. 

These cranes may come in as early as August, in Sind, but as 
a rule October is about the time of their arrival ; most go away in 
March, but some may be found even in May at times. They 
haunt open places and the vicinity of water, preferring rivers to 
tanks, but feed much away from the water, as a large part of 
their food while in India consists of various crops, especially 
wheat, grain, pulse and rice, for cranes are mixed feeders, not 
purely animal feeders like storks and herons. Early morning is 
their chief time for raiding the fields, and they do a great deal of 
damage, devouring not only the grains and pods of the cultivated 
plants, but the young shoots. They will also attack sweet 


potatoes, water-melons, and other vegetables. Dal is about their 
favourite of all crops, and w^here this grows higher than they 
are, they are more easily got at than is usually the case, since 
they cannot see the foe approaching in the distance. 

In the ordinary way they are as wary as most large birds, 
and take careful stalking, always having sentries on duty when 
feeding ; they are, however, particularly well worth pursuit, as 
not only are they nuisances to the farmer, but excellent game 
when obtained, always provided they have had time to eat 
enough of the vegetable food most of them prefer to get rid of 
the coarse flavour resulting from the diet of animal small fry 
they have been eating before the crops are available. Tbis crane 
is, in fact, one of the delicacies of the classical and mediaeval 
cuisine which is really worth eating ; this being more than can 
be said for a good many of the fowl our forefathers used to 
relish so much— in days, be it remembered, when fresh meat 
during at least half the year was very hard to come by. 

At night cranes resort, if possible, to an island sandbank to 
roost, where they sleep standing on one leg. This is, no doubt, 
as a protection against four-footed enemies, although such 
vigilant birds are not very likely to be surprised by such foes. 
Few birds also will attack this powerful species, and Prince 
Mirza, in his valuable and interesting book on hawking, trans- 
lated by Colonel Phillott, says that if 3^ou want a falcon to take 
cranes, you must not let her fly at herons, these being so much 
easier game. He also says that if one member of a flock is 
brought down by the hawk, its companions will all come to its 
assistance, and much commends their esprit de corps. Wounded 
cranes, by the way, run fast and swim fairly well, while they 
are nasty customers to tackle without a stick. 

Their trumpeting note is very fine and characteristic, and, 
in addition to their habit of forming lines and wedges m flight, 
has always made them conspicuous; as Dante says: — 

" And as the cranes go trumpeting, their call, 
Trailing their long-drawn line across the skj'." 

And one of the classical crane stories is of the poet Ibycus, 
who, done to death by highwaymen, called with his dying 
breath on a passing flight of cranes to avenge him. The story 





says the birds did not forget, but some time after were seen 
circling and calling over a market-place in which the robbers 
were at the time. One conscience-strack rnffian cried out to his 
friend, " There are the avengers of Ibycus," and thus betraying 
his secret, brought justice on the whole gang. 

Hanging practically all over Europe, though chietly breeding in 
the north — including England once — this great bird has naturally 
left a very marked impression in literature; it breeds all across 
northern Asia also, and winters in China as well as India. No 
nest has ever been found in our limits ; the eggs and young are 
much like those of the sarus, but smaller. 

The native name Kullimg is generally used also by Europeans ; 
a slight variant is the Deccani Kidlam, and Kooroonch is another 
Hindustani name ; in Manipur the name is Wainu. 

Hooded Crane. 

Gnis vionachus. Nabezuru, Japanese. 

This very rare visitant is distinguished from all our other 
cranes by the complete and conspicuous whiteness of its head 
and neck, contrasting strikingly with the body, this being of a 
darker grey than that seen in any of our other cranes. In form 
and in having a bald red patch on the head, it resembles the 
common crane or coolung, but is a little smaller in size, not 
exceeding a yard in length. Young birds have the grey of a 
brownish cast, owing to the feathers being edged with brown. 

The only record of the occurrence of this bird, which ranges, 
according to season, from eastern Mongolia and Siberia to 
Corea and China — sometimes also to Japan — is one by Mr. 
E. C. Stuart Baker, in one of his articles on the " Birds of North 
Cachar," pubHshed in volume xii of the Journal of the Bombay 
Natural History Society, under the name of "King" crane 
{Grus monarchus). No such species exists, but he evidently 
meant the present bird. He says : "In December of 1889, 
whilst fishing in the Mahar River, seven huge cranes flapped 
overhead down the stream and settled in a shallow pool some 
four hundred yards away. They at once struck me as being 


sometbinc;; I had not seen before, and I followed them up, and 
though I failed to bring my bird down with the first barrel I 
knocked one over as they rose with the second. He half fluttered 
and half ran down the stream, and it took a third barrel to bring 
him to bag ; but when it was at last brought to hand, I found 
myself in possession of an undoubted Grus monarchus. The 
anterior crown was black, otherwise the whole head and neck 
were white. The brown margins to the feathers of the upper- 
part made the plumage appear to be a brown-grey. The wing 
measured full twenty inches." 

This measurement would be taken from the pinion-joint to 
the tip, and does not indicate a " huge " bird, but is correct for 
this species. Cranes are rare in Cachar, and of other species 
Mr. Baker only records the sarus, and that only as a pair of casual 
visitants, so no doubt any crane would reasonably have appealed 
to him as a huge bird. These details are worth giving, because 
the specimen was unfortunately not kept. " I was three days 
from headquarters," says Mr. Baker, " but I thought special 
messengers would get it in in time to skin, but alas ! when I 
arrived three days later I found it had not been brought in, and 
the messenger, when questioned, said, ' Oh, it began to smell, so 
I threw it away.' " It is a pity the attempt to send it on was 
made, as the head and neck, however roughly preserved, would 
have been sufficient for identification. 

Hume also mentions, in volume xi of " Stray Feathers," 
what was probably an occurrence of this species in Manipur. 
"On March 13, when between Booree Bazaar and Bishnoopoor, 
a small flock of cranes passed me at a distance of about two 
hundred and fifty yards, flying low and due north. I got on to 
a small mound and watched them for probably more than a mile 
with my glasses, but when I lost sight of them they were still 
flying steadily away northwards. Now, whatever they were, they 
were certainly none of our Indian species. . . . They were 
of a uniform dark hue, much darker than communis, and had the 
whole head and upper-parts of the neck pure white. Of course, 
one says at once ' Gnis monachus no doubt.' But so far as I have 
been able to study the distribution of this group it is simply 
impossihle for monachus to be in Manipur in March. I never 


Id.HaKon Garden Londot. 



saw the birds on any other occasion, and I do not pretend to 
know what they were, beyond this, that they were cranes of the 
7)i07iachiis type and probably some undescribed species." No 
such species has ever turned up, and of course the argument as 
to date and locality has no value in the case of strong-winged 
migrants ; there can be practically no doubt that Hume's birds 
were simply hooded cranes. Not much is known about the bird 
anywhere ; its eggs have not been taken yet. It travels in small 
flocks, and arrives at its breeding-grounds in the north in April as 
a rule, and leaves for the south in August. Although it is rare 
in captivity, the London Zoo has a fine pair at the time of 
writing. I can see no brown on their plumage, and I notice 
that they wade a great deal. 

White or Si\ow-Avrcath Crane. 

Grus leucogeranus. Karekhur, Hindustani. 

In height and length being only by a few inches less than the 
sarus, this splendid snow-white bird can easily be distinguished 
from anything else in India if seen where the size can be 
appreciated, and if this is not the case, still its pinky-red face 
and legs will distinguish it from a large egret or a spoonbill. 
From the white stork {Clconia alba), also red-legged, the 
apparent absence of black in the plumage will distinguish it, 
while though when on the wing the black pinion-quills are 
conspicuous, they should not lead to confusion with the stork, 
which has nearly all the wing as well as the tail black. 

Young birds of the year are still more unmistakeable, being 
buff in colour, at any rate when they first arrive. Such birds 
are generally found along with the two parents, for the white 
crane, like the sarus, is essentially a lover of family life ; the 
flocks of half a dozen or so sometimes seen appear to be young 
two-year-old bachelors and spinsters, and no doubt such, with 
a sprinkling of bereaved old birds, make up the larger flocks 
which now and then occur. 

This crane is purely a winter visitor, and a rather local and 
scarce one at that ; though, judging from the numbers the 


dealers used to get hold of when I was in India, at any rate for 
several years following 1894, it is liable to come in some years 
in considerable numbers. The districts affected by it during its 
stay, which is between October and March, are all in the North- 
west, from Sind to Oudh, in which latter province it is called 
Tunhi. It is very local and very aquatic, being almost always 
seen in the shallow water of j heels and marshes, where Hume 
found it fed exclusively on vegetable food, the bulbs, seeds and 
leaves of various water-plants, especially rushes. The parents 
displayed the greatest affection for their young, pluming its 
feathers, and calling it to eat whenever they found a promising 
rush-tuft, while if it were shot they would circle round in the 
air for hours, calling disconsolately, and would return to the spot 
for days afterwards. 

The call of this crane is much weaker than that of our other 
species, " what," says Hume, " for so large a bird, may be called 
a mere chirrup." But, like the sarus, it has a sort of set song, 
to which the term chirruping can hardly be fairly applied ; 
the attitude in which this note, which is like a more refined 
and musical edition of that of the sarus, is given forth is 
peculiar. At first the bird begins to call with the bill bent in 
towards the breast ; with each note the bill is jerked further 
forward, while the wings are lifted and the piuion-quills drooped 
exposing their blackness, till, by the end of the song, the bird 
is calling with bill and neck erect, in the typical sarus position. 

This is a very wary bird, and when obtained is not good 
eating, while it is not a devourer of crops, so that there is no 
particular reason to trouble about shooting it. Its breeding- 
home is in Central Asia, Siberia, and Mongolia, and there its 
feeding habits are probably different from its vegetarian 
practices in India, for in captivity in England it readily eats 
fish, and will wait to catch them like a heron, and devour young 
ducks ; it also digs for earth-worms. 

Eggs taken in the wild state are still a desideratum, but 
several pairs have laid and sat in captivity, though up to date 
no young have ever been hatched. One pair in the London 
Zoo nests in this futile way year after year ; the eggs are two 
in number, and olive-brown in colour with dark brown blotches. 



Mr. R. Coso;rave, in some interesting notes on the cranes at 
Lilford Hall in the AviciUtural Magazine, says that the white 
cranes kept there are miserable in heat and rejoice in cold ; 
and, though this is not the case with the Zoo birds, which 
always behave and look much the same, it is quite possible that, 
as he suggests, the climate accounts for the infertility of the 
eggs so far produced in England. 

Demoiselle Crane. 

Aiithropoides virgo. Karkarra, Hindustani. 

The demoiselle crane is the smallest species found, not only 
in India, but anywhere ; it is not quite a yard long, and so 
would be more likely to be mistaken for the grey heron than 
is the common crane, were it not that the adults have their 
grey plumage strikingly set off by the black face, neck and 
breast, and long white plumes drooping from the cheeks ; 
while in the case of the young, which have only black on 
the neck, and but a little there, and the "kiss-curls" only 
just indicated, the shorter beak and neck outstretched in flight 
are sufficient distinctions. 

Moreover, demoiselle cranes are, even more than the common 
crane, likely to be found ni flocks ; they are extremely sociable, 
and some of their assemblages are enormous. Captain E. A. 
Butler says : " I have seen tanks fringed with a blue margin of 
these birds at least sixty yards wide, and extending over several 
acres of ground, over and over again." This was in Guzerat, 
and here, as well as in Kathiawar and the Deccan, are the bird's 
headquarters during its stay with us, for it is only a winter 
visitor, generally leaving in March, but sometimes waiting till 
May ; the month for arrival is October. Besides the pro- 
vinces named, the demoiselle also visits North-western India 
generally, and penetrates as far as Mysore in the Peninsula ; 
but in Lower Bengal and the countries to the eastward it is not 
found, though occurring in Chma in the winter, and in the end 
of the Peninsula is a rarity, while it does not reach Ceylon. It 
is called Kullimi in the Deccan, but wrongly, as this name 
seems to apply properly to the common crane or coolung, unless 


it simply means "crane"; the Mahratta name Karkuchi, the 
Canarese Karkoncha, and the Uriya Garara, are evidently, like 
" karkarra," an attempt at imitating the note, which in this 
species is very harsh and grating, quite at variance with the 
dainty grace of the bird, which well merits the name of 

It is a cheerful, playful bird, and in some districts spends 
most of the day on the wing, soaring round and round in circles, 
apparently merely for exercise. At such times it is most difficult 
to get near, and is, generally speaking, a very wary and thoroughly 
sporting bird. It is also excellent eating, at any rate when it 
has had the chance of feeding on cultivated produce, to which it 
is as partial as the common crane ; for this species also is, in its 
winter quarters at least, by preference a vegetable feeder. A 
favourite food is the karda or safflower seed, but it eats grain 
freely, and thrives well on it in captivity. Young reared in 
Europe in captivity, however, were fed by their parents on 
insects at first. 

After feeding on land they betake themselves to the edges of 
large tanks, and especially rivers, and roost in large flocks in 
such places, or in open plains, with sentinels set, the roosting 
flock breaking up into detachments with daybreak, when they 
fly abroad for food. 

The breeding range of the demoiselle is very wide, from 
Southern Europe eastwards all through Asia, but in temperate 
regions always, for this species is at all times a less northern 
bird than the common crane. The nest is on the ground, but 
made, curiously enough, of pebbles, with which also all the 
inequalities of the ground round about are filled in. The eggs, 
two m number, are much like those of the common crane, but 
smaller, and with more distinct markings on a darker ground. 

It is worth mentioning that in Southern India some sort of 
sanctity attaches to this bird ; patches of crops are left for it 
to feed on, and in Brahmin districts one may have serious trouble 
for shooting one, unless feeling about such matters has altered 
since Hume wrote a generation ago. 

i I 





The Great Indian Bustard. 

Eupodotis echcardsi. Hukna, Hindustani. 

The largest and most esteemed of Indian game-birds, this 
fine bustard is easily recognizable ; in size it exceeds the ordinary 
domestic turkey of India, and its long neck and legs make it con- 
spicuous. Its colour is dull brown above, white below; in the 
old male the neck is also white, but in hens and young cocks 
this part appears grey, owing to being pencilled over with black. 
In any case the crown of the head is black, contrasting strongly 
with the light cheeks. 

On the wing this bustard looks not unlike a vulture, moving 
with slow heavy sweeps of the wings, but it flies low and never 

Old cocks — and these alone ought to be shot — are distinguish- 
able not only by their white necks, but by their much greater 
size, as they are twice as big as hens, often weighing twenty 
pounds, and it has been said sometimes even twice as much. In 
length the cock is four feet, the hen about a foot less, while the 
wing expanse is about double the length. The great Indian 
bustard is a purely Indian bird, and is still found in the same 
districts as it frequented in the days of the pioneers of Indian 

In Ceylon and the extreme south of India it is not found, 
nor in the eastern portions, Bengal, Behar, Chota Nagpore, or 
Orissa. Needless to say, it does not extend into Burma or the 
Malay countries; but, curiously enough, the Australian bustard 
(Eupodotis australis), commonly known in the Commonwealth as 
" plains turkey," or simply as " wild turkey," is so very similar 
to the Indian bird that it can hardly be regarded as anything 
but a local race of the same species, although one would have 
expected to find a bustard of any sort in Australia about as much 
as a cockatoo in India. 

Presumably the bird once ranged throughout the interveniujg 
countries, but these became unsuitable for it owing to a change 
in conditions ; probably the growth of forest, for even in its 
chosen haunts in the plains of the Peninsula of India this 


bustard, like most of its family, is essentially a bird of the open, 
and avoids heavy cover. 

Dry undulating land, bare or grassy, is the bustard's favourite 
country, but when the grass in its haunts is cleared off it will 
resort to the waterside, or depart altogether to a locality where 
there is more grass. It also frequents wheatfields, and will eat 
grain as well as other seeds, shoots and berries, especially those 
of the ber and caronda, though it is by nature rather an animal 
than a vegetable feeder, especially relishing grasshoppers. 
Beetles — including blister-beetles — caterpillars, and even Hzards 
and snakes, form part of its food ; no doubt it will in practice 
eat any small living creature it comes across, as the great 
bustard of Europe does. 

Although this bustard does not fly high, it rises easily and 
is willing to travel several miles at a time, and it must traverse 
considerable distances at times in changing its quarters in search 
of suitable feeding-grounds. No one in modern times has ridden 
it down, as a writer in the old Bengal Sporting Magazine said 
he had known done ; perhaps a bird in heavy moult might 
succumb to persistent hunting, but the pace of this large species 
on the wing is much greater than it appears, and would not 
give a horseman much chance to come up with it and tire 
it out. 

Generally speaking, it is considered a most difficult bird to 
bring to bag, requiring very careful stalking, though now and 
then birds surprised in cover taller than themselves may fall 
easy victims. Now and then a few old cocks will associate with 
blackbuck, no doubt for the sake of mutual protection by watch- 
fulness, just as the true ostrich in Africa associates with the 
zebra and gnu, and the rhea, the so-called " ostrich " of southern 
South America, with the guanaco or wild llama. At all times 
this bustard is commonly in some sort of company of its own 
kind. A few old cocks or hens may chum together apart from 
the other sex when not breeding, while in the breeding season 
a strong cock collects about him as many as half a dozen wives. 

Nowadays, however, flocks of as many as two dozen birds, 
such as Jerdon records, are hardly ever to be seen, the largest 
parties generally numbering under a dozen. 


In courting, the male of the Indian great bustard goes 
through an extraordinary display. Strutting about with head 
lifted as high as possible, he cocks his tail, inhales air in repeated 
puffs, expanding and contracting his throat, and at last blows 
the neck out into a huge bag till it nearly reaches the ground, 
when he struts about displaying this goitre, and with his tail 
turned over his back, at the same time snapping his bill and 
uttering a peculiar deep moan, no doubt the origin of his 
Mahratta name of Hum. His ordinary alarm call is a most 
unbird-like noise which strikes some people as like barking, 
while others compare it to a bellow or the distant shout of 
a man. Hence is derived the Hindustani name Hookna, while 
the Canarese Ari-kujina-JmJcki means " the bird that calls like 
a man." Captain C. Brownlow also records {vide Mr. Baker) 
" a sort of cackle " uttered by an undisturbed flock. 

The breeding season of this bird is extended over more than 
half the year, Mr. Baker recording eggs taken in every month 
except December, February, and March, but the main breeding 
months appear to be from August to November, while the time 
is locally variable. Only one egg is laid — at any rate as a rule — 
and this in a slight hollow in the ground, with no attempt at a 
nest except sometimes a few bits of grass. It may be in the 
open or in high grass, preferabl}^ the latter. 

The egg is thick-shelled, and, though variable, tends to a 
long shape, often over three inches long. It is spotted, more 
or less distinctly, with brown on a ground of pale brown, dull 
olive green, or even grey. The down of the chick is buff above 
and white below, variegated with black on the buff portions. 

As this bird increases so slowly, it certainly needs watchful 
protection, but it seems not to have been seriously reduced in 
numbers during the last half-century. Although Sterndale 
records a tame specimen as killed by his pet mongoose, the size 
of the bird must protect it against small vermin as a rule, while 
it is on occasion a plucky bird, a correspondent of Mr. Baker's 
having been actually charged by a winged cock, and obliged to 
give it another shot. Moreover, the extreme wariness above 
alluded to is a great safeguard. Some credit the bustard with a 
keen sense of smell, which may partly account for the difficulty 
of approaching it. 


The flesh of the great Indian bustard is coarse in the case 
of old cocks, though young birds and hens are better. Such a 
striking bird has naturally many names. In addition to those 
given in the text, may be noted those of Tokdar, the usual title 
given by Mohammedan falconers, which is a variant of the Tugdar 
of the Punjabis ; in the Deccan we come across the names 
Mardhonk, Karadhonk and Karbink, while Sohun and Gughun- 
hher in Hindustani are used as well as Hukna and Yere-laddu in 
Canarese ; the Bat-meka of Telugu and Batta mekha of the 
Yanadi are evidently allied titles, while a quite different one is 
the Kanal-myle of Tamil. 

The Florican. 

Sypheotis hengalensis. Charas, Hindustani. 

The florican, so celebrated for the delicacy of its flesh, is 
about the size of a peahen, but longer and leggier in build and 
shorter in the tail. The hen is buff mottled with black, producing 
a general brown effect ; but the cock is very conspicuously 
coloured, mostly glossy black, but with the wings white, making 
a most conspicuous contrast in flight, and noticeable even m 

The back shows the partridge brown of the hen, and young 
cocks have hen plumage in their first year, but after the second 
year are fully coloured ; in the intermediate plumage the white 
on the wing is present, so that a brown bird, if with white wings, 
may be safely shot as a cock; hens should always be " let off." 

Hens are bigger than cocks in this species, though the 
difference is more in weight than in measurements, a hen 
weighing four or even five pounds, while a cock will be a pound 
less as a rule. 

This florican is a characteristic bird of eastern Bengal, whence 
the name "Bengal Florican " often given to it; but in addition to 
those parts of Bengal which lie north of the Ganges, it is found 
in the adjoining parts of Oudh and the North-west Provinces : it 
is well known in the Assam Valley, but not found in southern 
or western India, or in any country outside India proper. 


It is a bird of the open grass country, where it lives solitary, 
preferring thin grass, though it will take to high thick growth 
if there is no other cover available ; in thick cover it lies close, 
but in thin short grass it is hard to get near and runs fast 
and far. 

When flushed it flies slowly, but with frequent wing-beats, 
and generally for only a mile or less, and succumbs to a com- 
paratively slight blow. Like so many other solitary birds, it 
is noticed to affect particular spots, these being soon after 
reoccupied when the specimen found haunting them has been 

The greater part of the florican's food is vegetable, including 
sprouts, seeds, and runners of grasses, berries, mustard-tops, 
milky-juiced leaves, &c., but it takes a great deal of animal food 
also, feeding particularly on locusts when these can be had, 
besides grasshoppers and beetles. Corn it does not seem to care 
for. In the season when blister-beetles abound it feeds freely 
on them, and is then a very undesirable article of food, as these 
insects have the properties of cantharides, and a corresponding 
effect on those who partake of the bird which has eaten them. 
In the ordinary way, however, the florican is prized as the 
finest of Indian game birds for the table ; its flesh is of high 
flavour, with a layer of brown without and white within. 

The breeding customs of this bu'd are peculiar ; the sexes do 
not live together, but in the time of courtship, that is to say 
from March to June, the cock makes himself conspicuous by 
rising perpendicularly into the air some ten or fifteen yards, 
with flapping wings and a peculiar humming note ; sinking 
down, he rises again, and so for five or six times, until a female 
approaches him, for at this time the sexes, though not actually 
associating, tend to draw near together. He then displays on 
the ground, with erected and expanded tail, still repeating the 
humming sound. His affections are very transient, for he takes 
no more notice of his temporary mate. 

For her part, she seeks thick grass cover, and lays two eggs 
at the root of a grass clump, with no nest. The eggs are about 
the size of small hen's eggs, of a more or less bright olive-green 
spotted with brown ; one is generally larger and richer coloured 


than the other. The hen sits for a month, if she is not dis- 
turhed, for, according to Hodgson, she is so suspicious that if 
the eggs are found and handled she is sure to discover it, and 
then herself to destroy them. 

The young are runners, like those of other bustards, and can 
fly in a month; they stay near the mother, however, till, when 
they are nearly a year old, she drives them off. As two hens 
often breed together, and apparently pool their broods for 
mutual protection, just as eider-ducks do, coveys, so to speak, 
of half a dozen birds may be found, in contra-distinction to the 
usual unsociable habits of this species. 

With the exception of the humming courting-song of the 
florican, its only other note is the alarm call of "chik-chik," 
shrill and metallic, but also uttered in a softer form when the 
bird is at ease. 

The bird is often called " houbara" by sportsmen — quite mis- 
takenly of course — for the houbara, though also a bustard, is 
quite a different bird, haunting the desert tracts just where the 
florican is not found. Variants of the Hindustani name are 
Charat and Charj, and in many parts of the Terai the sexes 
are distinguished by name, the male being Ahlak (pied), and 
the hen Bor. In Assam the bird is the " grass peafowl," Uht 
Mor of the natives. 

Lesser Florican. 

Sijpheotides auritus. Likh, Hindustani. 

Better known perhaps by its Hindustani name, this beauti- 
ful little bustard is very distinct from all other birds. So long 
in neck and leg is it that it looks like a miniature ostrich when 
on foot ; its size is only a little larger than that of the common 
partridge. On the wing it resembles a duck somewhat, having 
a rapid flight and similar-sized wings to a duck's. 

The hen is of the same partridge-colour, a buff mottled with 
brown, as the hen large florican; and the cock is, like that of 
the large species, a black-and-white bird, with a partridge-brown 
back, but his head and neck are closely feathered like the hen's, 


' >'uti;-J5L'ii-*'.<?r'",I*rl. 


Eupodctzs edmirdsi. 

Syp?ieciides azuiia. 

Sypheotides auriia 

Eupodotis echvardsi 

A.V/.3trutt Del. 


whereas the feathering on this part in the big florican is full and 
bushy. But the likh has his own decoration in the shape of 
three long and very narrow feathers, mere shafts, with a tassel 
of webbing at the tip, on each side of the head. Nothing like 
this is found in any other bird except some of the black birds of 
paradise of the genus Parotia from New Guinea. 

The likh male has not so much white on the wing as the 
large florican, and he goes into hen plumage for the winter, still, 
however, retaining a white wing patch. In this species also the 
cocks are smaller than the hens, and to a greater extent ; the 
cocks weigh about a pound, the hens half as much again. 

This interesting bird is one of the many fascinating species 
which are purely Indian ; it is not even found in Ceylon, and 
though its range in India is wider than that of the large florican, 
it does not cover the whole country, its real home, according to 
Hume, being the drier portions of the Peninsula. As, however, 
it is irregularly migratory, and, like migratory birds generally, 
turns up individually as a straggler, it may be found almost any- 
where, at times in open plain country. There is, however, a 
general movement north and west during the rains, when the 
birds breed, and after this they drop back southwards ; but the 
passage is so irregular and dependent on climatic conditions, that 
the birds cannot be looked for with certainty year after year in 
the same localities. 

This has rather encouraged the iniquitous practice of shooting 
them during the breeding season, a poaching trick rendered 
unfortunately easy by the peculiar display of the cock, which 
at this time springs about a couple of yards from the grass with 
a frog-like croak, sinking again parachute-fashion with outspread 
wings. This is repeated about every quarter of an hour, and no 
doubt attracts the hens, to say nothing of rivals, for cocks have 
been seen fighting desperately. The hen also springs at times, 
and the cock may do so without calling. The likh affects cover 
more than any other of the Indian bustards, chiefly grass and 
crops, through which it runs with great speed, holding up its 
tail in a folded shape like a common hen's. Other bustards 
change the shape of their tails in this way too, but not so much 
as the likh. The fowl-like tail carriage and partiality for the 


warragoo crops account for the Tamil name Warragoo kolee 
(Warragoo fowl), while it is also called Khar-titar (grass- 
partridge), by the Bheels near Mhow. 

The food of this bustard is chiefly grasshoppers, but also 
centipedes, small lizards, and beetles, including blister-beetles ; 
when these are being consumed its flesh is a viand to be avoided, 
as mentioned under the heading of the large florican. Ordinarily 
it is not considered equal to that bird, though, nevertheless, 
generally in high estimation ; but of course with all mixed- 
feeding birds, the previous diet of the game itself has a good deal 
to do with the judgment passed on it. 

Owing to the wide range of the bird and its nomadic habits, 
the time of the breeding season varies a good deal, from July to 
October, according to locality, the northern-breeding birds being 
later in the year than the southern members of their species. 
It is a bird which, on account of its unique character no less 
than its sporting value, deserves careful protection to encourage 
its increase, and no doubt this could be done better by prohibiting 
the shooting of hens at any time than by trying to fix close 

The eggs are laid — for no nest but a "scrape" is made — on 
some little bare patch or among low grass, not over two feet 
high, no doubt so that the chicks can get about more easily than 
would be possible in the usual higher cover the old ones frequent. 
The eggs are broadly oval, rather under two inches long, and 
speckled with cloudy markings of some shade of brown on a 
ground of more or less bright greeny drab or brown. 

Besides the names above alluded to, this small florican is 
dignified by some natives with the title of ground peafowl, like 
its big relative, Tan-mor in Mahratta, Kan-noul in Canarese, 
and Nialaniinili, having this significance. It is also called 
Chota charat or small florican. 



Houbara macqueenii. Tilur, Punjabi. 

The houbara is the characteristic bustard of the semi-desert 
tracts of North-west India ; it is of medium size for a bustard, 
about two and a half feet long, and has plumage so beautifully 
assimilated to the sandy soil that it is hard to see at all on the 
ground, at any rate when crouched flat, which it habitually does 
when alarmed. On the wing its black-and-white quills show 
it up conspicuously, and in the hand its long fringe-like black- 
and-white ruff and the delicate grey on the breast, and the bars 
of the same tint on the tail, make it conspicuously different from 
our other bustards. The hen only differs from the cock in being 
smaller and not quite so fully " furnished " in the matter of head 
and neck plumage, but the sex difference is only comparative, 
not absolute as in our other bustards. Cocks weigh about four 
and hens about three pounds. 

This bustard does not breed within Indian limits as far as 
is known, though it is suspected of doing so in Sind ; but it is 
a well-known winter visitor, sometimes arriving as early as the 
end of August, but usually at least a month later. After April 
the birds have generally all departed for their breeding haunts — 
Persia and the Gulf, Baluchistan and Afghanistan. Outside 
Sind, Eajputana and the Punjab, houbara are mere stragglers; 
Hume shot one such in the Meerut district. 

In the AVestern Indian dry plain country the houbara may 
be found either in the more or less thick but low and scrubby 
natural cover, or among the cereal crops, so long as these are 
low. It runs well, and often tries to escape in this way, but 
towards the time of its departure it appears to feel the heat so 
much as to be disinclined even to run, let alone fly. When it 
does rise, its flight is heavy and not long-continued, but it can 
display considerable wing power when attacked by a hawk. 
Ridiculously exaggerated as are many of the accounts of " pro- 
tective colouring," there are some cases in which it really does 
seem to be a very important asset to the creature possessing 
it ; for not only is it generally agreed that a squatting houbara 


cannot be picked out by human eyes, but even a falcon flown at 
one has been seen to settle and walk about in utter bewilder- 
ment, looking for the prey that had alighted and adopted the 
plan of literally " lying low." 

Often also the houbara avoids the falcon when dropping into 
cover, and when hard pressed ejects his excrement, which, as in 
all bustards, is copious, fluid, and very offensive. He is credited 
with domg this on purpose, when, on trying to escape by "ringing 
up " like a heron, he finds the hawk just under him ; whether 
or not intentional, however, the action effectually puts the 
assailant out of the running, for the filthy discharge so glues 
its feathers together that it cannot fly well till cleansed, and 
may drop on the spot. But the falcon chiefly acts as the 
houbara's foe under the management of man ; eagles, which 
strike at birds on the ground rather than on the wing, are 
probably the enemies against which the sandy plumage is a 

In thick cover, houbara can be walked up by a line of 
guns and beaters ; where they are to be found in the open, a 
good way to approach them is to ride round them in diminishing 
circles on a camel, being ready for them to get up suddenly 
after they have disappeared by squatting as the approach 
becomes closer. You can see them all right when standing, 
in spite of the supposed "counter-shading" effect of the white 
under-surface of the bod5^ Houbara are usually in parties, 
sometimes as many as twenty together ; they feed chiefly on 
vegetable food, ber fruits, grewia berries, lemon-grass shoots, 
and young wheat ; now and then beetles and snails are taken, 
however. They appear to have no sort of call, but the male has 
a very striking nuptial display ; he turns his tail forward, drops 
his wings, draws his head back and puffs out his neck till the 
bristling ruff produces a most extraordinary effect. The hen 
lays, in the usual bustard fashion, on the ground, two or three 
eggs, elliptical, about two and a half inches long, and stone- 
colour to olive-brown in tint, with evenly distributed blotches 
and spots of dark brown and pale purple ; some specimens 
have a green ground. This species of bustard finds its 
western limit in Mesopotamia as a rule, but it straggles west 


as well as east, especially to South-eastern Europe. It is found 
in the highlands of West China, and resides in Afghanistan and 
Baluchistan all the year round. It goes down in British bird 
books as Macqueen's bustard, one of our rarities. Somewhere 
or other it must meet the North African houbara (Hoiibara 
unclulata), which ranges into Armenia, and differs from our bird 
by having no black tips to the crest feathers, the long breast- 
plumes white instead of grey, and much coarser black pencilling 
on the sandy back, this pencilling, common to bustards 
generally, being particularly delicate in the Eastern houbara. 
The name Houbara is a native one as well as Tiloor, which in 
Sind becomes Taloor. 

Little Bustard. 

Otis tetrax. Ckota tilur, Hindustani. 

" Butterfly houbara " is a common sportsman's name for this 
smart little bustard, the smallest kind known except the lesser 
florican ; it is given from the bird's peculiar free-and-easy, go-as- 
you-please style of flight, often high in the air, and altogether 
different from that of other bustards. The bird, however, has 
two distinct styles of flight, for it can get away steadily and 
swiftly like a partridge. In any case, its white wings make it 
conspicuous in flight ; on the ground it looks like a bob-tailed 
hen pheasant, being of about that size and with light brown 
plumage coarsely mottled with black. 

It is only a winter visitor here — and only to the North-west 
Punjab at that, though stragglers may cross the Indus, and 
three have been got in Kashmir ; and so we do not see the males 
in their courting bravery of grey face, white necklaces, and black 
breast ; in their winter dress they are indistinguishable from 
hens except in the hand, being merely less coarsely pencilled on 
the back and less regularly on the breast. There is no constant 
difference in size, some cocks being smaller than hens, others 

October is the month in which the little bustard may be 
expected to arrive, and most have left India by the end of 
March ; but it is not much observed or written about, though 


many are shot or killed with hawks ; what is most noticed seems 
to be the eccentric flight, which renders it impossible to drive 
the birds. In Europe they have been found to " ring up " and 
put in about half-an-hour at aerial gymnastics till beaters had 
gone on, when they resumed their ground and everyday life. 

It may be mentioned that the peculiarity of two distinct 
styles of flight is observable in a very different bird, the beautiful 
rosy cockatoo or " galah " of Australia [Cacatua roseicapilla) ; 
this bird, as I was able to observe in specimens they have had 
loose at the London Zoo on two occasions during the past two 
years (1912-1913), goes off as heavily as a duck, but when well 
in the air swings along with the slow, rocking, happy-go-lucky 
flight of a gull, the very antipodes of the swift flight of the 
familiar Indian parrakeets. 

To return to the butterfly houbara, it frequents low grass and 
oil-seed crops, and feeds largely on the leaves of the sarson 
mustard, also eating insects and snails ; in mustard fields it 
often lies very close, and is easily walked up and killed. In 
rising it makes a sharp "pat-pat"' with the wings. Its call, 
" a loud guttural rattling cry," is frequently uttered on the wing ; 
during the breeding season the male calls tree tree, and shows off 
with head drawn back, tail expanded, and half-opened wings ; 
but he is monogamous, and does not yearn after a harem like 
so many bustards. 

The breeding range of the species covers the countries of the 
Mediterranean basin, and extends eastwards to Central Asia ; 
northwards it ranges to East Prussia and South Russia, where it 
is one of the characteristic steppe birds, living concealed in the 
rank vegetation of the region during the summer. In the lush 
herbage the birds frequent the eggs are very hard to find ; the 
clutch, often in a fairly well-made nest, is large for a bustard, 
four being laid, which no doubt partly accounts for this species 
being so common in many localities ; but there may be five, 
three, or two. The eggs are short pointed ovals, olive in ground 
with a brown or green tinge, and markings of light brown which 
are often so faint as to be with difficulty distinguishable. 

Hume did not think well of the flesh of this bird, which he 
describes as dark and hard, and rather unpleasantly flavoured ; 


F Waller. ChromoLith. 18 HatlonGarJeti.Lono 



but it is generally spoken well of by European ornithologists. 
In Baluchistan, where these birds are locally very common, the 
native name is Charaz. 

European Great Bustard. 

Otis tarda. Deo-dagh, Chitral. 

Up to date, only four specimens of this great bird have been 
obtained in Indian limits, all of them hens, and the first as long 
ago as 1870 ; in size it about equals the great Indian bustard, 
sex for sex, but will be easily distinguishable, if met with, on the 
ground by the absence of the dark cap, head and neck being 
uniform light grey, and in flight by the white wings, which have 
only the quills black; the birds keep more together than the large 
Indian species. Close at hand the coarse barring of black on buff 
of the upper parts is very different from the finely pencilled dull 
brown of the great Indian bustard, and the big male, as large as 
a swan, has in the breeding season long bristly moustaches, but 
these disappear for the winter, at which season or in spring all 
Indian specimens have been taken. The bill of this species, like 
that of the little bustard, being much shorter and more fowl-like 
than the pigeon-like bill of our Indian well-known kinds, the 
skull alone would be sufficient evidence of the capture of one. 

The first Indian specimen, one of a flock, was got at Mardan, 
and forty years later two more were killed in the same locality, 
the weather being very cold. In 1911 two birds occurred, one 
at Jacobabad in January and one at Chitral in March ; all these 
unfortunate stragglers w^ere young birds and, as above remarked, 
hens. Birds of this sex are about as big as a grey goose, and 
indeed there is something goose-like about this species, in its 
sturdy build, social habits, and fondness for vegetable food ; it 
devours the leaves, ears and seed of a great variety of plants, and, 
though a great eater, is somewhat of an epicure. Eape is a 
favourite plant with it, and in some parts of the continent it is 
classed as a destructive bird. However, it does partake also of 
insects, worms, and other small animals, and the young are quite 

The display of this magnificent game bird is a wonderful 


sight. The courting male turns his tail right over on his hack 
and holds it down, as it were, with the crossed tips of his long 
quills, while the pinion joints of the wing extend outwards and 
downwards; at the same time the head is thrown back, the neck 
blown out like a bladder and the whiskers extended on each side. 
The white feathers on the under-side of the rump and on the 
wings are fully erected and turned forward, and altogether the 
bird looks about as unbird-like an object as can be imagined. A 
specimen well stuffed in this position can be seen in the Natural 
History Museum, at South Kensington. 

The male birds not only show off, but fight furiously for the 

females. They for their part conceal their eggs with great care. 

These are generally two, sometimes three, in number, laid in a 

mere " scrape " or the scantiest of nests ; they are about 

three inches long and olive in hue, tinged w^ith brown or green, 

variegated with dark brown blotches and spots. The down of 

the chicks has black spots on a hght buff ground. This, the 

noblest of all bustards, perhaps of all game birds, is also the 

most widely distributed of the bustard family, ranging all over 

Central and Southern Europe where conditions are suitable, i.e., 

in open unenclosed country, cultivated or waste, and east through 

Asia Minor and Central Asia, to our frontier, while the so-called 

Dybowski's bustard {Otis dyhoivskii), whose range is from Central 

Asia to China, is merely a local race, not a fully distinct species. 

As most people know, it was formerly a well-known though local 

British bird, but was idiotically allowed to be exterminated ; the 

last flock seen, curiously enough, appeared in the same year as 

the first Indian specimen. This bustard, in spite of the slow 

strokes of its wings, flies fast ; it is a migrant where winter 

rigour compels it to wander for food. As human diet it is not 

so nmch favoured as it used to be, but its strong smell does not 

always imply that its meat will be bad eating. 


Common Sand-grouse. 

Pteroclurus exustus. Bhat-titar, Hindustani. 

This sandy-coloured, sharp-tailed bird, about the size of a 
dove and rather like one — indeed, sand-grouse are often, though 
quite mistakenly, alluded to as "rock-pigeons " — is pretty certain 
to be encountered by anyone shooting in any dry open district 
in India; on hills, in heavy cover, and on damp land it is not 
to be found, and so is generally absent from Bengal, and is 
not to be looked for either on the Bombay and Malabar coasts 
nor in Ceylon or Burma, from which all sand-grouse are absent. 
The dry North-west is naturally its greatest stronghold. 

This bird is less handsomely marked than the generality of 
its allies, which are remarkable for the quiet beauty of their 
plumage. The sandy hue of the cock is relieved, however, by 
yellow on the throat and face, and chocolate on the belly ; the 
ben is barred with black on the buff upper-parts and has the 
dark brown abdomen lightened by buff barring. 

These sand-grouse begin feeding at daybreak, frequenting 
stubble fields and weedy fallow land, where they procure the 
seeds of the weeds ; and they also eat millet and pulse, as well as 
grass seeds, but insects are very rarely eaten. Hume only notes 
two cases of this, the insects in one case being ants, in the other 
beetles. In both specimens seeds were present as well. 

Between 8 and 10 o'clock in the morning they go to the 
nearest water to drink. They have sometimes to fly a long 
distance for this purpose, but this does not matter to them, 
as they are fine and swift fliers, and often fly very high ; they 
call continually when on the wing, their note being a double 
cluck. After the morning feed they seek another feeding-ground 
of a more open character, such as a ploughed field or sandy 
plain ; here, after a slight lunch, they lie down to take a nap 
during the heat of the day under some clod or other shade, 
getting up again for tea in another field, and gradually drifting 
off later on for the evening drink from 4 to 6 o'clock. The 
drinking time varies with the season, but, whenever it is, their 
enemies are liable to interfere with this simple routine of 
existence, since it is the custom to lie up for them at the 



drinking place. Owing to their speed they afford good sport, 
but, as Hume says, it is cruel to wait for them at both drink- 
ing times where water is scarce. They cannot apparently go 
very long without a drink, if they miss one in the morning; 
but when brutally scared off again they will leave the neighbour- 
hood, even if they have eggs close by. 

This may be the case in suitable localities at almost any time 
of year, for this species is a resident and has a very extended 
breeding season, though in the North-west April to June are 
the usual months. Both sexes care for the eggs and young, 
the cocks sitting by night and the hens by day, and although 
the chicks pick for themselves, water is brought for them by the 
male parent, who soaks his breast feathers in it and lets the 
chicks suck it off. This no doubt accounts for Hume seeing 
the birds washing, as he thought, at their drinking places ; the 
habit of thus watering the young, which has been discovered in 
recent years by people who have bred sand-grouse in aviaries, 
was not then known. In the ordinary way, dusting rather than 
washmg is the sand-grouse custom, so when birds are seen 
wetting their plumage at the drinking places it may be suspected 
that they have young somewhere near, and no shooting should 
be done. 

The eggs are laid in a scrape on the ground, occasionally 
with a scanty lining, and are usually two, rarely more or fewer. 
They are of long shape and blunt at both ends — this peculiar 
form of egg being characteristic of the eggs of the sand-grouse 
family — and the ground-colour varies, being greyish - white, 
pinkish stone-colour, cream, or olive-brown. The spots are 
dark brown and dull mauve, their intensity and amount varying 
very much. 

These sand-grouse sleep at night on the ground, like all the 
group, selecting some open place, and Hume remarks on their 
extreme watchfulness. They pack closely at such times, not 
scattering as they do during the noonday siesta, and no doubt 
find that " many heads are better than one " in the matter of 
keeping a look-out ; at any rate, they seem never to fall into the 
clutches of the ordinary four-footed vermin, though native 
fowlers catch them sometimes. 









These birds weigh about eight ounces, the cocks running 
heavier ; they also have the long feathers in the tail about an 
inch longer than the hens. 

Although a resident with us, this sand-grouse is not con- 
fined to India, inhabiting also central and south-west Asia and 
a large part of Africa ; it is, in fact, truly the common sand- 
grouse, having the widest range in the family. Being so notice- 
able and well known a bird in India, it has many names — 
Bukhttifar, Kumar-tit and Kuliar — as well as the one above 
given in Hindustani, Pakorade or Pokundi in Marathi. Jam 
polanka in Telugu, Kal-kondari in Tamil, and Kal-gowjal liaki 
in Canarese, while in Sind the names are Butahur and Batohun, 
and among the Bheels Popandi is used. 

Spotted Sand-grouse. 

Pteroduriis senegalliis. Nandu katinga, Sindi. 

It is not often that a bird is named from a peculiarity in the 
hen's plumage alone, but that is the case with the present one, 
in which only the hen is spotted, the spots being small round 
black ones on a buff ground, and taking the place of the more 
or less transverse black pencilling usual in female sand-grouse. 
Except for this, she is very like the common sand-grouse, and 
has a similar pin tail ; the cock has a corresponding likeness to 
that of the common Bhut-titar, but is easily distinguishable by 
his grey eye-streaks and chocolate mottling on the wings. 

This species, though numerous where it occurs, is very local, 
being a regular visitor only to Sind and Jeysulmere ; it also 
occurs near the Kunn of Cutch and in the Shahpur district in 
the Punjab. Although for the most part a winter visitor, some 
individuals undoubtedly breed in Sind, but the main haunts of 
the species are in Northern Africa, though it is also found in 
South-west Asia. 

The spotted sand-grouse assembles in flocks up to fifty in 
number and has a strong preference for the desert, though it 
comes to the edge of cultivation for food. The food includes 
more insects than is usually the case with sand-grouse, though 


seeds form the main portion of it ; but Hume was no doubt right 
in thinking that to this more insectivorous tendency the greater 
succulence of the present bird's flesh is due, though he had a 
poor opinion of any sort of sand-grouse as food, except when 
"baked in a ball of clay, gipsy fashion." I should think that 
wrapped in a thin rasher of bacon, civilized fashion, they might 
go just as well. 

The note of this species is characteristic, being, according to 
Hume and Dresser, a gurgling sound like " quiddle, quiddle, 
quiddle " ; but James, quoted by Hume, says it is very like that 
of the common sand-grouse, though he admits it is less harsh, 
and easily distinguishable. 

It is not so wary as the black-bellied sand-grouse, and the 
cocks are less quarrelsome than in that species. The eggs are 
laid in March and April, and number two or three ; one extracted 
from a hen shot in Upper Sind is described as pale yellowish 
stone colour, spotted with olive-brown and grey. The weight of 
the bird is about nine ounces or more in cocks and less in hens. 

Large Pintailcd Sand-grouse. 

Pteroclnrus alchata. El Guett'ha, Arabic. 

Nobody seems to know any special native name for this 
sand-grouse, which is curious, seeing that for distinctness and 
beauty of plumage it stands apart, and is one of our three species 
which are as large as pigeons. From the other two, the Tibetan 
and the black-bellied, it is easily distinguished; its belly is white, 
not black, as in the latter, and though the Tibetan sand-grouse 
has also a white belly, its toes, feathered as well as the legs, 
distinguish it. Moreover, the present bird has, above the white 
belly, a black band clearly marking off the buff breast. These 
points, and the long pin feathers in the tail, are common to both 
sexes, but otherwise they differ ; the hen has the usual black- 
pencilled buff upper plumage of hen sand-grouse, and the cock's 
upper plumage is a beautiful mixture of subdued olive-green and 
soft yellow, the former colour predominating. He has a black 
throat and a black necklace a little way below this, defining the 


Torxarwu bcdJloni 

Tier odes fousciatizs. 

Megapodius rdcoharieneis 

EhfnrJixjejOL heiwfaleibs-u: 

. t 

Kypotsem/Ha strtatw. 

A WStvutuDel 

F Valler.I.ilKlS.lIaU.oji (Jardtai. London. 


top of the buff breast from the lighter buff of the neck. The hen 
has also a necklace here, but it is double in her. Both have a 
beautiful variegated patch on the wing near the pinion-joint, 
formed by white-edged feathers, their ground-colour being 
chocolate in the cock and black in the hen. 

It may be that the very local occurrence of this exquisitely 
beautiful, and, where it occurs, very abundant bird, have pre- 
vented it getting a distinct appellation in our Indian tongues ; 
it is only at all common in Northern and Central Sind and the 
Punjab, and only a winter visitor there, but it has strayed to 
Delhi and been obtained in Kajputana. It leaves for the north 
early in April at latest ; its range is very wide, and it must be 
one of the most abundant of the family, being found not only 
in South-western and Central Asia, but being represented in 
Southern Europe and North Africa by what can hardly be called 
a distinct species, though it can just be separated as a local race, 
the so-called P. pyrenaicus. 

When with us it is in enormous flocks ; they were, says Hume, 
in tens of thousands on a vast plain some miles from Hoti 
Mardan, the only place where he had had a chance of observing 
them ; here they only frequented the bare and fallow land, though 
cultivated ground was at hand, and were very wary, requiring to 
be stalked by way of nullahs or ravines. Their flight seemed to 
him even more powerful than that of other sand-grouse, and the 
note, uttered freely either on the ground or on the wing, was, 
although rather like that of the black-bellied species, still quite 
distinct from that of any other. Dresser renders it as kaat kaat 
ka, and Blanford calls it a loud clanging cry. The food is leaves, 
seeds, small pulse and grain, and plenty of gravel is taken. 

This is one of the species the male of which has been actually 
observed to soak its breast to water its young, as recorded by 
Mr. E. G. Meade- Waldo, the first to discover this unique habit 
in 1895. He says, in the Avicultural Magazine (1905-1906), 
" I have had the good fortune to see the males of Pterocles 
arenarius, the black-breasted sand-grouse, and Pterocles alchatus, 
the greater pintailed sand-grouse, getting water for their young 
•in the wild state, but, had I not seen it administered in confine- 
ment, would have considered them to have been demented birds 


trying to dust in mud and water, when unlimited dusting ground 
surrounded them on every side." He appears not to have seen 
the actual act of soaking by the present species, but saw the 
cocks pass over with their white breasts soaked in mud and 
water, and he has often bred this bird (the western form) in 
confinement, his old hen, the mother of many broods, having 
died at the advanced age of nearly 20 years. 

Black-bellied Sand-grouse. 

Pterocles arenarius. Burra bhatta, Hindustani. 

The black belly which gives this fine sand-grouse its name 
will also distinguish it from all our other species ; it is one of our 
three large kinds, being as big as any ordinary pigeon. The hen 
has the usual buff black-speckled plumage above, though black 
below like her mate ; the cock has the head and breast grey, 
the throat chestnut, and the upper parts elsewhere variegated 
with grey and buffy-yellow. There are no long points to the 
centre tail feathers as in our other large species. 

Although only a winter visitant to India, this sand-grouse is 
probably the most numerous after the common kind, since it 
arrives in enormous numbers. Hume, for instance, says " Driving 
in November, 1867, the last stage into Fazilka from Ferozepore, 
parallel to and on the average about two miles distant from the 
Sutlej, over a hundred flocks, or parties of from four or five to 
close upon one hundred each, flew over us during our fifteen miles 
drive ; they were all going to the river to drink or returning 
thence. Necessarily we can only have seen an exceedingly small 
fraction of the total number that that morning crossed that little 
stretch of road." 

But, although thus abundant locally, the black-bellied sand- 
grouse is not widely distributed in India during its stay there, 
but is confined to the North-west Provinces, and in most years 
only really abundant, says Hume, in northern and western 
Eajputana and the Punjab west of Umballa ; also, being averse 
to heat, it comes rather late, about the middle of October and 
leaves as a rule at the end of February. It has a wide uange out- 


side India, throughout South-west Asia and Northern Africa and 
to Spain and even to the Canary Islands ; in these parts of its 
range it breeds and has been found doing so even in Afghanistan, 
the time of year being May. It is also found in Turkestan. 

This species especially affects wide plains in sandy country, 
and if water is reasonably near, such localities in the North-west 
are a pretty safe find for them during the cold months they stay 
with us. Large numbers are bagged at their drinking places, 
three guns at three different tanks having once bagged fifty-four 
brace in three hours in a morning, as reported to Hume by his 
native friend Khan Nizam-ud-din, who was one of the guns in 

They generally prefer ploughed land to stubble, and when 
washing in the eaily morning pack very closely, though they 
scatter more during the mid-day siesta, and then lie on either 
side alternately to enjoy the heat, with one wing slightly extended. 
They are inclined to be wary, especially when they have been 
much shot at. The note is very much like that of the common 
sand-grouse and the native names are generally the same, though 
Banchur is used at Peshawar for the big bird. 

Like the common sand-grouse also, most of their food is 
seeds with the addition of bits of herbage ; insects are also eaten 
occasionally, though hardly ever in Hume's experience. They 
straggle a good deal when feeding, and towards the time of their 
departure the males skirmish a good deal without actual stand-up 
fighting. The weight is about a pound, the cocks being inclined 
to run over this weight and the hens to be lighter. 

Sand-grouse of all kinds strike one at once as being especially 
suited to the table on account of the huge breast muscles which 
move their long wings in their swift, powerful flight and make up 
the greater part of the body ; but in practice they are rather apt 
to be dry when brought to table, though very freely used where 
they can be got. 


Coronctcd Sand-grouse. 

Pterocles coronatus. 

This, like the common and spotted sand-grouse, is a sandy- 
colom'ed bird of the size of a dove, but has not the long 
feathers in the tail ; the cock has a grey stripe on the side of 
the head, and some chocolate on the wings, but can be easily 
distinguished from the spotted sand-grouse and common sand- 
grouse cocks by his small black bib and black streaks on the 
forehead and face. The hen is less easy to distinguish, but may 
be known from the hen spotted sand-grouse by the black 
markings on her buff plumage being crescents, not spots, while 
the absence of the long points to the tail will distinguish her 
from the hen common sand-grouse. 

Like the Lichtenstein's sand-grouse, this is merely a frontier 
bird of doubtful status ; it is uncommon and usually only occurs 
in Sind, does not go east of the Indus even there, and is only 
suspected of breeding in the country, being usually a winter 
visitor. Its present range is from North-east Africa, through 
Arabia, South Persia and Baluchistan, to our frontiers. It 
breeds as near as Afghanistan, eggs being found about May or 
June ; they are pale in colour, the spots being scanty and pale 
brown, while the ground colour is greyish white. 

There is very little on record about this bird ; Heuglin says it 
is just like the spotted sand-grouse — which, in spite of being 
"pintailed," appears to be its nearest ally in voice and habits. 
In the southern parts of the Sahara according to Tristram, 
it takes the place of the black-bellied sand-grouse, along with 
the spotted species. He only found it in small parties of four 
or five (no doubt families), but he attributed this to the extreme 
scarcity of vegetation in its arid haunts. In Baluchistan, 
Blanford considered it commoner than the spotted sand- 

Mr. Whitaker gives some useful notes on it in his " Birds of 
Tunisia," where he found it abundant, though local, in the 
districts south of the Atlas. He found it coming in flocks of 
from ten to fifty birds to drink at the water-holes at Oglet 


Alima, from 7 to 10 a.m. They did not come back that evening, 
but turned up again next morning. They flew high and very 
strongly, with a loud clucking note somewhat like that of a fowl, 
audible even when the birds themselves were so high as hardly 
to be seen. They were shy and required a hard blow to bring 
them down, but were " excellent eating, not at all dry or 
tasteless, the breast having dark and light meat the same as 
black game." He never found anything in their stomachs but 
seed and other vegetable matter. 

Painted Sand-grouse. 

Pterocles fasciatiis. Pahari bhat-titar, Hindustani, 

This is the smallest of our well-known sand-grouse, and of 
remarkable beauty of plumage, at any rate in the case of the 
male, whose buff ground colour is diversified above by broad and 
close-set chocolate bands, about as wide as the interspaces 
between them. The wings have a few white bands, and the 
head two bands each of black-and-white; the breast is unhanded, 
but below this the plumage is coloured with black and buff in 
narrow equal bands. The orange bill and yellow eye-lids are 
also characteristic colour-points of this species. There are no 
long *'pin " feathers in the tail. 

The hen is of a more ordinary type, barred with buff and 
black nearly all over, the head being spotted with black, not 

This sand-grouse is less short-legged and squatty than the 
others, and not so long in the wings ; it approaches the partridge 
type more, in fact, and in accordance with this structure it is 
found to run much more quickly and freely than other sand- 
grouse, so that it might almost at times be taken for a partridge. 
It also frequents rather different localities from other sand- 
grouse, for though, like the rest of them, liking dry soil, it is 
found in places where there is a good deal of bush and even tree 
cover. Nor is it typically a bird of the plains, for it especially 
affects hills and ravines, and likes to frequent the mounds left 
when a jungle village has been deserted. In the rains it deserts 


its bushy haunts and lives in the open Hke the common sand- 
grouse. Where such ground as it Hkes is to be found it is widely 
spread, but not by any means universally; its chief stronghold 
is in Guzerat, Cutch, Rajputana, the North-west Provinces and 
the Simaliks. On the Malabar and Bombay coasts and the 
Ganges delta and the Carnatic lowlands it is not to be found, nor 
does it pass westward of the Indus. It is not nearly so gre- 
garious as other sand-grouse, being usually found in pairs or 
even singly, a flock of ten being exceptional. Owing to its 
lying very close, at any rate in the day-time, it is seldom seen 
until startled, when the birds fly strongly and fast, but are not 
diflicult to kill. They do not fly very far at a time, and do not 
go far from home except in search of water, which they visit 
much earlier and later than other species, not taking their 
evening drink till dusk or even after dark, and drinking again 
before sunrise. They have also often been seen feeding and 
flying about at night, and observations on specimens in captivity 
in England have shown them so verj^ lethargic by day that it 
is probable that they are really night — rather than day — birds, 
which would no doubt account for the fact of their lying so much 
closer than other species. 

Their note is as characteristic as their other traits ; although 
they call on the wing like other sand-grouse, the note is described 
by Hume as a " chuckling chirp." 

The nest of this bird is, however, the usual sand-grouse 
" scrape" on the ground, with the scantiest of lining, if any ; the 
eggs, which are usually three in number, but sometimes two or 
even four, are of the typical long shape, but of a very distinctive 
colour, salmon-pink, marked with brownish-red and dull purple ; 
they are much like those of some nightjars. 

The weight of these birds is between six and seven ounces, 
the male exceeding the female but very little. In South India 
it is known as Handeri, the Tamil word being Sonda polanka. 









Closc-barrcd Sand-grouse. 

Pterocles Vichtensteini. 

The close, narrow, transverse black barring on the upper 
parts and breast of the male of this bird at once distinguish it 
from that of the painted sand-grouse, to which it is, nevertheless, 
very similar and closely related ; the hens are, as one would 
expect, much more alike, but the presence in the present bird of 
only fourteen instead of sixteen tail-feathers, and the absence 
of the bars on the " stockings," or leg-feathering — the painted, 
alone among our sand-grouse, going in for barred hose — are 
certain distinctions between them ; moreover, on the abdomen 
of the painted sand-grouse, in both sexes, the black predominates 
over the white, while the reverse is the case with Lichtenstein's. 

The close-barred sand-grouse is only a frontier bird with us, 
visiting Sind only, and not penetrating further east than the 
Indus ; its usual home is North-east Africa, Arabia, and 
Baluchistan, and it is resident in those countries. It may, 
perhaps, be found to breed in Sind, although generally ranked 
only as a cold-weather bird, and one of very irregular occurrence 
at that. 

When found, it is, like the painted sand-grouse, in pairs, or 
small parties, frequenting scrub and rocky ground near cultiva- 
tion. It does not fly far at a time, and lies well, but is not 
always easy to hit, especially in the dusk, for, again like its ally, 
it has decidedly nocturnal tendencies, and comes to water very 
late in the evening and very early in the morning. 

" On moonlight nights," says von Heuglin, speaking of its 
habits in North-east Africa, " these birds never roost at all, and 
there is really no end to the clapping and striking of wings and 
the whistling and croaking of these noisy fowl as they straggle 
about on the ground, especially in the neighbourhood of the desert 
springs, with lowered pinions and upturned and outspread 
tails." They feed, however, he says, in the forenoon and again 
towards evening, frequenting fields of maize, cotton, and indigo, 
threshing-floors, caravan-roads, and weedy valleys. The note is 
quite different from that of the coroneted and common sand- 


grouse, and resembles a sharp whistle through the fingers, and 
is " deafening " when the small parties pack in numbers at their 
drinking-places. As he speaks of them as in enormous multitudes 
in some places, they must be far more numerous in their African 
haunts than they ever seem to be in India, and far more so 
than the painted sand-grouse ever is, for that matter ; though, 
no doubt, scarcity of watering-places causes a great deal of 

The eggs, according to Heuglin, although of the usual long 
shape of sand-grouse eggs, are " much the colour of dirty and 
faded peewit's eggs." The highland slopes with a thin covering 
of scrub were the breeding-grounds, and the time of breedmg 
the beginning of the rains. 

TibetaiY Sand-grouse. 

Syri'haptes tihetanus. Kuk, Ladakhi. 

The Tibetan sand-grouse is at once distinguishable from 
all other Indian game-birds by having the legs and toes — which 
by the way are excessively short — completely feathered to the 
claws ; there is no hind-toe at all. It is larger than any of the 
other sand-grouse, and duller in colour, its sandy hue being only 
relieved by dull-orange neck and cheeks, a white belly, and black 
pinion quills; the tail has long "pin feathers" in the middle. 
The hen's black pencilling on breast and back will easily distin- 
guish her, for though the cock is also pencilled above, the 
markings are very fine and not conspicuous. 

The Ladakhi name of this bird is evidently derived from its 
characteristic cry, which, however, is in two syllables: another 
local name is Kaling. The only other place, besides Ladakh, 
in which this species occurs in our Empire is the valley of the 
upper Sutlej ; its real home is the " Roof of the World," the 
high steppes of Tibet and the Pamir Plateau, extending to 
Koko-Nor ; but it may of course be expected frequently to stray 
over our frontier at high levels. Its haunts are barren and 
desolate places, but it manages to find sufficient food to exist 
upon in the shape of grass- seeds, shoots and berries, in search of 


which it shows more activity in getting about than one would 
expect in such a very short-legged bird — it is quite the squattiest 
in ^ the game-list. Flocks of hundreds often occur, but in 
summer these break up into little groups. They are very hard 
to see when basking in the sun at midday, owing to their 
plumage being so like the sand, and make a prodigious noise as 
they get up suddenly, and rather surprisingly; for at such times 
they lie very close, and in spite of their fast and powerful flight, 
do not go far, and may be marked down and flushed again and 

In the mornings and evenings they are apt to be much 
more shy, and to take alarm at a hundred yards' distance. 
The drinking- times — two in the twenty-four hours, as usual with 
sand-grouse — are in the very early morning and quite at dusk. 
The birds are generally near water, and will drink brackish if 
they cannot get fresh. They are noisy birds when on the move, 
and their characteristic double cluck can be heard at night as 
well as by day. 

The eggs have never been taken within British limits, and 
in fact till within quite recent years were not known at all. 
However, there are in the British Museum collection a couple 
taken on the Pamir, and presented by Mr. St. George Littledale, 
which are described in the Museum Catalogue of Birds' Eggs as 
follows : — 

" The eggs of the Tibetan three-toed sand-grouse in the 
collection are of a pale creamy-buff colour. Both the shell- 
markings and the surface-markings are small, and the latter 
consist entirely of spots of dull reddish-brown evenly distributed 
over the whole shell. Two examples measure respectively 
1-9 X 1-37 : 2 x 1-33." 



Pavo cristatus. Mor, Hindustani. 

India and Ceylon are the native and only homes of the 
common peacock, a bird so well known in domestication every- 
where that there would really be no need to describe it were 
it not for the sake of pointing out some sexual, varietal, and 
specific distinctions. 

With regard to the first, everyone knows that the peahen is 
a plain brown bird without the cock's long train, but it should 
be noted that she has a similar crest, a good deal of green on the 
neck, and the under-parts dirty-white. The young cock in his 
first year is very like her, but can be known at once, if put on 
the wing, by the bright cinnamon pinion-quills, the first sign of 
the masculine plumage to be fully developed ; though even at this 
early age the neck is more glossy and bluer than the hen's, and 
the pencilling of the wings is indicated. 

In the next year the full rich blue of the neck and the distinct 
chequering of black and buff on the wings are developed, together 
with the scale-like golden feathers between the shoulders. The 
train, however, is foreshadowed only by some beautiful bronze- 
green feathers overhanging most of the tail, but without eyes 
or fringes, and quite short. In the next year the full train is 
assumed, and no further change takes place, except that for 
some years it lengthens a little. The age of the birds can 
therefore not be judged for more than a few years, but there 
is good reason to believe that it may reach a century in captivity, 
though such a long life is hardly within the expectation of the 
wild peacock, with all the risks he has to run. Chicks have the 
brown down, streaked with darker, so commonly found among 
the true game-birds; in the brown chicken-feather they have 
the long narrow crest of the other species, the Burinese or 
Javan peafowl. They begin to show off when as small as a 
partridge, or smaller. 

In the so-called Pavo nigripennis, the black-winged or Japan 
peafowl, which has not been found wild in Japan or anywhere 
else — with the exception of a hen once shot in the Doon and 
seen in the skin by Hume — the cock has those parts of the wings 


which are speckled black and cream in the ordinary form, black 
glossed at the edges with blue and green, and the thighs black 
instead of the usual drab. The corresponding hen is white with 
black tail, a considerable but variable amount of black streaking 
and peppering above, cinnamon crown and pinion-quills, and 
white instead of dark legs, as indeed the black-winged cock has. 
In the down, birds of this variety are primrose-yellow, developing 
buffy wing-feathers, and ultimately a chicken-feather of cream 
colour barred above with black, from which the cocks by degrees 
become darker and the hens lighter, as described above. I have 
gone into so much detail about this bird because it is positively 
known to arise as a " sport " from ordinary domestic peafowl, 
and to produce ordinary birds when crossed with the white variety 
so often imported to India from Europe as a curiosity. There is, 
therefore, no doubt that it is not distinct from the ordinary pea- 
fowl ; but at the same time it is a most interesting form, as it 
is distinct in all stages and rarely fails to reproduce its kind, so 
that any information about its occurrence in the wild state would 
be very interesting. The "uniformly dirty-yellow" hens seen 
wild by Sanderson were presumably a buff form, or they might 
have been young hens of this type, but as he says nothing about 
markings the former is more likely, and as I have heard of a cock 
of the domestic race which was described to me as exactly of the 
colour of a new copper coin, it is evident that a buff variation 
is possible for both sexes. Pied birds also are well known in 
domestication, but with the exception of the production of these 
colour varieties the peacock has not altered at all since its first 
introduction into Europe folio wmg on Alexander the Great's 
invasion of India, so that twenty centuries of domestication in 
an alien climate have not affected its plumage any more than 
they have eliminated the less elaborate but even more con- 
spicuous black-and-red hues of its companion, the jungle-fowl. 

Like that bird, the peacock is essentially a lowlander, not 
ascending the hills into a temperate chmate, though in the hills 
of the south of India it goes higher than in the Himalayas. It 
likes tree cover near water and cultivation, and where such 
conditions occur may be found almost anywhere in India 
and Ceylon ; but, as Hume says, there may be too much water, 


cover, and cultivation to suit it, and so it is local. It is, however, 
often found in places which do not seem by any means ideal, 
such as the sandy semi-desert parts of the North-west. Here it 
is protected by its sanctity in Hindu eyes, and indeed everywhere 
where Hinduism is dominant ; in native states no one may shoot 
it, and in any case it is always well to ascertain the state of local 
religious feeling before firing at peafowl, or the consequences may 
easily be serious. 

No doubt in many out-of-the-way and naturally unsuitable 
places these birds have been artificially introduced, and where 
rigidly protected they are half tame ; but where they have to 
lake their chance few birds are wilder and more wary, and they 
are most untiring runners, only taking to wing as a last resort. 
The flight is quite different from that of a pheasant, the wings 
moving with comparatively leisurely flaps and no sailing inter- 
vals ; however, it is much faster than it looks, and the birds, if 
positively forced, can rocket like any pheasant; but the old cocks, 
whose long trains are so much dead weight, cannot fly very far 
at a time, and have been even run down by persistent chasing 
during the hot weather. It is probable that any shifting of 
ground that the peafowl have to make is done mostly on foot, 
as used to be the case with wild turkeys in America in the days 
of their abundance ; these birds, by the way, having also limited 
powers of flight, often fell into rivers and had to swim ashore, 
and I have seen in England a young peacock reduced to the 
same extremity by having tried to fly across a stream with 
clipped wings, save himself similarly, swimming as readily as 
a moorhen. 

The scream of the peacock is very well known, but the 
ordinary call-note is less familiar ; it sounds like anyone trying 
to pronounce the bird's Latin name Pavo through a trumpet, and 
is often used as an alarm-call. Being essentially birds of tree- 
jungle, pea-fowl naturally roost on trees, and high trees at that ; 
but they do not mount to the top, but settle down on the lower 
boughs. They are late in roosting in the wild state, and some- 
times in domestication, though I have commonly observed them 
going to bed quite early. Yet they are wary at night — at any 
rate an escaped hen in Covent Garden defied nocturnal surprises 



for several months ; but they can be shot on the roost in the wild 
state, though only need of food ought to drive anyone to this. 
The buff eggs, by the wa}', about half a dozen of which are laid, 
generally in the rains and on the ground, are most excellent. 

It must be admitted, however, that peafowl are not by any 
means friends to the farmer and forester, as they are destructive 
to grain, herbage, flowers, and buds ; most of their food is, in fact, 
vegetable, but they also, to their credit, consume various insects 
and other vermin, including young snakes. They are as good to 
eat as turkeys, if yearlings are taken, and a yearling cock can 
always be picked out, as I said above, by his cinnamon quills. 
Young hens have slightly redder quills than old ones, and are 
a little pencilled on the feathers over the tail. As the cock is 
three years old by the time he is in full colour, one can only 
expect him to be tough, as any ordinary rooster would be ; but of 
course he is good for soup. 

The peacock of course has names in all the native languages, 
and sometimes the cock and hen have different ones ; thus in 
Uriya Manja is the cock and Mania the hen; in Mahratta there 
is a still greater difference, the cock being Tans, very close to 
the Greek Taos, and the hen Landuri ; the Assamese Moir comes 
very near the Hindustani name, which has also the variant 
Manjar ; Notvl is the name in Canarese, Nimili in Jeluga, Mijl 
in Tamil ; the Lepcha word is Morcj-yiing and the Bhotanese 
Mahja, while the Garos use Bode, and the Nepalese Monara. 

Burmese Peafowl. 

Pavo mutictis. Daung, Burmese. 

This Eastern species of peafowl, the only relative and rival 
of our old friend which figures on a small scale below it on 
the plate, is also well known in its way from Japanese art, 
in which it is the only form of peafowl represented ; many 
people must have noticed that the Japanese artist's peafowl have 
long narrow crests and neck-feathers as clearly defined as the 
scales of a fish ; and these points are indeed characteristic of both 
sexes of the Burmese bird, as well as the predominant green 
colour of the neck and the plumage generally, on account of which 


it is sometimes called the green peacock. The long lance-head 
shaped crest has given the bird one of its scientific names, Pavo 
spicifer, and the dealers at home often call it the " specifer 
peacock." In this species the bare skin of the face is much more 
extended than in the Indian peacock, and is richly coloured with 
orange-yellow on the jaws and cheeks and mauve-blue round the 
eyes. The train is very like that of the common peacock, but 
the wings are black in both sexes, and both have cinnamon 
pinion-quills. In fact, fine hens of this species are almost exactly 
like cocks, except of course for having no train ; and they likewise 
lack the scale-like shoulder patch, which is greener and less gold 
in this species than in the other, but they have dark under-parts 
like the cocks. Yearling cocks already have the green short tail- 
coverts which the ordinary bird does not get till the second year 
and are so like old hens that the only reliable distinction is the 
colour of the little patch of feathers that breaks the bare facial 
skin between bill and eye ; this is rusty brown even in the best 
hens, and deep glossy green in any cock. A similar difference 
may be observed in this patch in common peafowl. As hens of 
the Burmese bird have spurs as a regular thing, they are of no 
use as a sex distinction. 

In the second year the Burmese pea cockerel assumes the 
scaly scapular patch and an especial mark of masculinity, a lovely 
blue patch near the pinion-joint of the wing, an area which is 
always green in the hen : in the third he gets his full train, so 
his development is really much like that of his Western cousin in 
point of stages, though he starts with an advantage. 

The note is, however, strikingly different in this bird, being 
six-syllabled and very subdued and unobtrusive. The bird itself, 
however, is not by any means so in captivity, for he is extremely 
spiteful and a most dangerous bird to have about where there 
are children and infirm people, while his unexpected attacks are 
not pleasant for anyone. Yet he is quite susceptible of attach- 
ment to individuals, and the young birds and hens are charmingl}' 
tame. The cock also chiefly shows his fierce temper when in 
possession of his full train, showing a curious analogy to deer, 
which are chiefly dangerous when possessing their horns. 

The range of this peafowl begins where that of the common 


bird ends; it has been recorded from one locality in Cachar, 
where, however, the other is the ordinary species, as in Assam ; it 
is the only peafowl found in Burma and Malaysia, and ranges 
eastwards to Java. It must have been taken to Japan many 
centuries ago, for it was first described by Aldrovandi in the 
16th century, from a drawing sent by the Japanese Emperor 
to the Pope. In Europe it is rare in captivity, and not much 
is on record about it in the wild state. It is not nearly so 
common in most places as is the Indian peafowl, being only 
really abundant in our limits in Upper Burma, and occurring 
generally in isolated colonies a long distance apart. The general 
habits appear to be similar to those of the common peafowl, 
though it is much wilder and less sociable, but there are no 
doubt other differences in detail. Wallace, speaking of the bird 
in Java, says it flies over high trees with ease, and an officer 
I met told me that it could be seen in the evening flighting up 
the rivers in Burma ; this looks as if it flew more freely and 
readily than the Indian species, and it certainly has longer wings, 
the pinion-quills showing their tips outside the others in the 
closed wing. Its remarkably slim and long-legged build is also 
noticeable; in fact, it is as stiity as many waders, and I have seen 
hens at the London Zoo, when kept along with cranes, wading 
and standing in a small pond in cold as well as hot weather, 
though their mate, a very chilly bird, would not do so. Tickell 
also says that these birds, as well as jungle-fowl in Burma, 
especially affect islets in rivers in the evening, scratching in the 
sand at the margin and roosting safe from vermin. Possibly 
they wade about also ; the domestic fowl in India is certainly a 
great wader in suburban ditches in Calcutta, or was in my time, 
when they seemed nearly as aquatic as rails, wading right up to 
their hocks. 

The display of this peafowl is similar to that of the common 
species, but the wings are brought farther forward so as to brush 
the -legs, and owing to the length of these and the comparative 
skimpiness of the train, the " nautch " is less grand and imposing. 
As this green peafowl has occurred in the territory of the other 
species, hybrids between the two might occasionally occur, so it 
is worth while to mention the points of some which were bred 


a few years back in the London Zoo between a Javan hen and 
a black-winged common peacock. Hens and yearling cocks (the 
latter were sent away soon after their first year) were much alike 
and had dark brown plumage, pencilled with buff above, and with 
no white on the lower parts ; the quills were cinnamon in all, 
and the upper tail-coverts bronzed. So far they resembled more 
their Javan mother, but the crest was that of the common pea- 
fowl, and they had the face-skin equally limited in extent, and 
nearly as white, but with a vivid orange patch under the ear. 
The colour of the neck, however, was of a rich glossy emerald, 
like a mallard's, differing much from the bronze-green and purple 
of the Javan birds and more resembling that of the nape of the 
common peahen, though covering the entire neck. A trio of 
these birds are said to have reproduced again in the grounds 
of the well-known Dutch aviculturist, Mynheer Blaauw. The 
eggs of this species, which are laid during the rains, resemble 
those of common peafowl, and the chicks also appear to be 

Grey Peacock Pheasant. 

Polijplectrum cJiinquis. DeyodahiiTx, Assamese. 

This beautiful bird's grey plumage, spangled with metallic 
spots of purple-green, is quite sufficient distinction from any 
other bird met with in his haunts, which are the lower eleva- 
tions of the hills, or localities thereto adjacent, from Sikkim 
to Burma. The hen bird is sufficiently like him in general 
appearance to be recognizable at once, but she is not only much 
less in size, weighing only a pound at most, while he may reach 
one and three-quarters, but also, as might be expected, duller 
in plumage, especially in having the glittering spangles replaced 
by sombre black, except at the tip of the tail. Young birds 
have the tail transversely barred with a light colour at first. 

These pea-pheasants, as Jerdon well calls them, are in some 
ways very like pigmy peafowl ; they have the same level-backed 
carriage, light build, and dainty gliding gait, and the cock in 
full display, when he stoops and spreads his bejewelled tail 
before the hen, is very peacock-like ; but his display differs in 


detail in the fact that the wings, being also ornamented, are set 
out on each side of the tail and enhance the effect, and are only 
half opened, while the peacock keeps his wings behind his train 
and even the true tail at the back, and shutiHes them with the 
chestnut flight feathers showing. At the London Zoo it has 
been observed that the male peacock-pheasant, when about to 
display, allures the hen by offering her a bit of food and then 
takes advantage of her proximity to show off, a very intelligent- 
looking action. Like the tragopan, he has a sideway as well 
as a frontal show, slanting himself, as it were, so as to show 
all his spots on one side, and this was for long thought to be his 
only pose. 

In time of courtship his hairy-looking crest, which is 
always longer than the hen's and is chronically on end, turns 
right forward over his beak, even when he is not otherwise 
displaying. No doubt he fights with his rivals, and his legs are 
often armed with several spurs apiece, but the number is very 
variable, and some time ago I noted in three males at the Zoo, 
all imported birds and several years old, that 'all differed in this 
point, one indeed having no spurs at all and another only one. 

It looks, therefore, as if the idea current among the Kookies, 
that a new spur grows every year, is incorrect, and that the 
number of spurs is purely an individual point. The morning 
and evening call of the cock, which begins with the year, and is 
uttered at half-minute intervals, often for an hour or more at a 
time, from a perch on a tree or stump, is described as " some- 
thing like a laugh " ; it certainly is in several syllables, but the 
laugh is a very harsh one, and I have noted it as a barking 
cackle. It is deceptive as to distance, and yet furnishes the best 
means of stalking the bird, which is not at all easy to get at by 
any sportsmanlike means. It keeps closely to cover, especially 
bamboos and low trees ; only if it can be forced to " tree " by 
hunting it with noisy curs, it may provide a pot shot. Natives 
often snare it, and Davison once had a very curious experience 
in getting specimens in this way in Tenasserim, where he found 
the bird very common. "I found," he says, as quoted by Hume, 
" three holes of the porcupine rat (of which I got two specimens) 
communicating with one another ; the entrance to one of these 


holes was nearly three feet in diameter and some four feet in 
depth, decreasing, as the hole deepened horizontally into the hill 
side, to about eight inches. I set a slip noose with a springer in 
the small part of the holes. On looking next morning, instead of, 
as I expected, finding the rat, there were only a number of 
featheirs of the male of this species. I set the trap again, and that 
evening got nothing ; next morning I found a hen hanging by 
her legs in the trap." Here were evidently a pair in the habit 
of going to ground, a custom which needs investigation. The 
birds, by the way, generally do pair, and seldom more than four 
are seen together, such parties being probably families, since in 
captivity only two eggs are laid at a time. The birds begin 
breeding about May, retreating to the densest jungles at this 
time, and ceasing to call till the autumn ; the cream-coloured 
eggs, about two inches long, are laid on the ground under a 
bush, and the young when hatched run close behind their 
mother, completely hidden from view by her long broad tail, 
which she expands to cover them. They are dark chocolate 
in colour, without stripes, and their slim black legs are noticeable 
and characteristic, the old birds being particularly fine-limbed, 
and slaty-black in the colour of these parts. 

This peacock- pheasant is excellent eating ; it feeds on insects, 
snails, seeds, and especially on certain red berries which are 
used by the Kookies as bait for their springes. Fortunately, 
these catch more cocks than hens, but poaching tricks of this 
sort ought to be made illegal everywhere ; there are plenty of 
vermin that want killing down everywhere in India, and the 
destructive energies of natives should be directed on these 
rather than game-birds. The beautiful plumage of this bird is 
very suitable for decoration, and if protected during the breed- 
ing season it might well be made to supply this. 

The tea-garden coolies recognize the affinity of this bird to 
the peacock by calling it one — Paisa-walla Majur. In North- 
eastern Cachar they are called Mohr. Munnoioar is an Assamese 
name as well as that given above, of which the Garo Deo-dirrik 
is obviously a variant ; while in Tenasserim the name is Shway 
dong and in Arrakan and Pegu Doung-kulla . Outside our limits 
this bird is found in Siam. 


Malayan Peacock-pheasant. 

Poll/plectrum hicalcaratiim. 

The Malay peacock-pheasant has the same grizzled style of 
plumage, ornamented with eye-spots, as the better known grey 
species, but is brown, not grey, and darker in tint, the minute 
speckling which produces the grizzled effect being black on a 
ground of pale brown. In addition to this difference, which 
characterizes both sexes, the cock has a purple or green glossed 
crest and a red face, while in the hen the eye-spots are much 
better developed, especially on the tail, than in the hen of the 
common species, in which they are represented only by faintly 
glossed dark spots on most of the feathers. 

Practically nothing seems to be known about this species in 
the wild state, except that it is found in the Peninsula south of 
Tenasserim, and is suspected of ranging as far north as that 
district. It is also found in Sumatra. As it was described as 
long ago as 1760, less than twenty years after the common species, 
and many skins and a few live specimens have reached Europe, 
it seems strange that it is still so little known, though of course 
a forest-haunting bird in a pre-eminently jungly country is not 
the sort to be easily studied anywhere, and is likely to remain 
long unfamiliar unless in a district well settled by Europeans, 
such as much of the range of the grey peacock-pheasant. 

Argus Pheasant. 

Argusianus argus. Quou, Malay. 

The true argus pheasant of Malaysia, one of the most remark- 
able birds known, is the sort of creature which the proverbial blind 
man in a dark room could hardly miss, for if either party moved 
about at all he would be pretty certain to come across the enormous 
centre-tail feathers, twisted-tipped, and between four and five feet 
long. The wings, however, of the cock argus are still more 
extraordinary, the secondary quills, which in most birds barely 
cover the flight feathers in repose and generally expose a good 
deal of the tips of these, being about twice as long as the 


"flights" and projecting beyond the end of the body in repose 
much as the wings of a grasshopper do ; in fact, this extension 
of the wings in the rear and the long straight line they form 
with the long tail give the bird a remarkably rectilineal outline, 
and it is anything but graceful, although lightly built and with 
an easy gait. 

The plumage also as seen in repose is nothing striking, being 
very like a guinea-fowl's scheme of colouring carried out in browris 
and buffs instead of greys and whites. The hen's is coloured 
much like the cock's in the exposed portions ; neither sex has 
spurs and both have red legs, and the skin of the head, which is 
nearly bare, especially in the cock, of a dark blue. The hen's 
tail is much like a common fowl's, of medium length and 
folded ; otherwise she reminds one more of a small brown hen 
turkey than of anything else. She weighs about three and a half 
pounds, and the cock is only about a pound more, although his 
centre tail feathers bring up his length often to six feet, and 
the over-developed wing quills make the closed wing nearly a 
yard long ; so, though he is mostly feathers, he looks a very large 
bird and is nearly as long as any existing species. 

The argus is, however, very seldom seen at all in the wild 
state and has seldom been shot by Europeans. It is never found 
in open country, and in its chosen haunts, the most dense recesses 
of the evergreen forests of its home, it has no difficult)' m slipping 
silently away when approached, and it habitually retreats into 
the thickest cover when alarmed. Even a dog cannot always 
make them rise, as they are swift of foot ; mdeed, they probably 
seldom use their wings except to go up to roost at night, or in 
case of real need to seek refuge from a quadruped foe. How far 
the cock could really fly in the open with his peculiar wings, 
which are constructed all the wrong way for flight — the pinion 
quills, not the secondaries, being the essential ones — would be an 
interesting point to solve by experiment, but the exertion of 
working his great floppy fans would no doubt soon tire him out. 

These curious wings, however, form the chief part of the 
sirange and unique display of this bird, which may now and then 
be seen in captivity, although the argus is not a free shower like 
the peacock. When displaying, the wings are raised behind and 


lowered in front, with all quills fully expanded and the first quills 
touching in front. Now can be seen the characteristic and 
celebrated ornaments of the male about which so much has been 
written by theorists on sexual selection : the wonderful rows of 
eye-spots along the outer webs of the great secondaries, plainly 
tinted but exquisitely shaded to resemble balls in cups, which 
everyone must have noticed in these quills when worn in ladies' 
hats, and the delicate colouring of the pinion-quills with their 
dark blue shafts, leopard spots, and white-peppered chestnut 
bands along the inner sides of the shafts. All these artistic 
excellencies are supposed to please the female, but there is as yet 
no evidence that she is impressed by them. Her mate is rather 
handicapped in his manoeuvres to give her a good front view by 
having to keep his head behind the huge screen formed by his 
wings, which, with the exception of the ends of the long feathers 
of the raised tail, are all that can be seen from the front ; but now 
and then he pokes his head through from behind the scenes, so 
it is said. In any case what he presents to the hen is a fan, not a 
bird, and even in repose, as I have said before, he is not elegant, 
his decoration being so exaggerated — in fact, he bears the same 
relation to the peacock that a lady in the silly crinolines once 
worn does to one gracefully wearing a becoming if lengthy train. 
The male argus is a typical crusty old bachelor in his way of 
living. He selects a small open spot in the forest, and clears oflf 
all the dead leaves and twigs and removes all weeds. He is so 
fussy about keeping this masculine boudoir clean that several 
of the poaching methods of capturing him depend on this fad of 
his, the dead-fall or what not being released by his pulling at a 
peg stuck in his floor, which he immediately tries to remove on 
commghome. The clearing is no doubt used for a display-place, 
and it certainly is the male bird's home, for he roosts near it, 
and is generally to be found in it, when not out searching for 
food, which consists of insects, slugs, and fallen berries, a 
fruit very like a prune being an especial favourite. Although 
these birds do not seem to wander about and fight, they 
challenge, or at any rate call, quite freely ; the note is 
expressed by the Malay name, but is a two-syllabled one 
— it always sounded to me like " who-whoop " ! The hens 


are no doubt summoned by this ; then* own call is, according 
to Davison, "like how-owoo, bow-owoo, the last syllable 
much prolonged, repeated ten or a dozen times, but getting 
more and more rapid until it ends in a series of owoo's run 
together." Both sexes have a bark-like alarm note, and their 
calls above described can be heard a long vi^ay, the male's as 
much as a mile. Even the two sexes in this bird do not associate 
constantly, and the hens not only have no regular home, but the 
breeding-season varies, though eggs are not to be found in the 
depth of the rains. The eggs are rather like turkeys' eggs, and 
seven or eight form the clutch. The chicks fledge as rapidly 
as those of the tragopans, so often miscalled '' argus." 

The present bird, which ranges to Sumatra, is rather of 
interest to the naturalist than the sportsman, but the plumage 
of the cock — at any rate the eyed feathers of the wings — is much 
used for the plume trade. This use, of course, needs regulating, 
and the killing of the bird ought to be absolutely prohibited, 
though it might be permitted to snare it in such a way as not 
to injure it, and release it after cutting" off a two-foot length of 
the eye-bearing plumes, which could well be spared. 

Crested Argus. 

Bheinardtius ocellatiis. 

As a local race of this magnificent bird, previously only 
known from Tonquin, has of late been found to occur at Pahang 
in the Malay Peninsula, it may claim brief notice here. It is 
a bird of general speckled-brown coloration, like the true argus, 
and the hens are not unlike, except that that of the crested 
species has a strong bushy crest at the back of the head like her 
mate ; the head is also more feathered in both sexes. The cock 
has ordinary-sized wings without eye-spots, but a most ex- 
travagant tail, several feet long, with broad but tapering feathers 
marked with brown eye-spots with white centres ; a single one of 
these feathers would easily identify him. 








Red Jui\glc-fo>vl. 

Gallus ferrugineus. Jungli moorghi, Hindustani. 

" Just like a bantam " is the verdict generally passed on the 
appearance of honest chanticleer in his wild state, whether the 
observer be an Anglo-Indian shikari or a lady visiting the London 
Zoo ; and the comparison is apt enough on the whole, for red jungle- 
fowl, which are simply wild common fowls, have the red-and-black 
colour in the cock and partridge-brown in the hen, so familiar in 
many bantams, and are of noticeably small size compared with 
most tame breeds. 

They are over bantam weight, however, cocks averaging about 
two pounds and hens about half that ; and the tail, which is very 
long in the cock, is carried trailing, not cocked up as in tame 
fowls. This applies to all kinds of jungle-fowl, none of which 
strut like the tame bird, and this familiar species has, at any 
rate in Indian specimens, a particularly slinking gait. Burmese 
birds have much more the appearance of tame poultry than the 
Western ones, and are said to be easier to tame ; so, unless they 
are domestic birds run wild, it is probably this particular sub- 
species that was the ancestor of our farmyard fowls. 

To anyone who wants jungle-fowl alive, and wishes to make 
sure of getting the absolutely real thing, however, I recommend 
the Indian race, which is characterized by having the ear-lobe 
(the little skinny flap below the ear) white, and the face flesh- 
colour, contrasting with the scarlet comb and wattles ; the slate- 
coloured legs are also peculiarly fine. Burmese birds have all the 
bare skin of the head of the same red, and are certainly not so 
scared-looking or wild in behaviour, while slightly coarser in form. 
Of course wherever tame fowls are kept there is a great liability 
to intermixture with their wild ancestors, so that ill-bred "jungle- 
fowl " may be expected to turn up anywhere. The fowl also runs 
wild very readily in the tropics, so that it is really uncertain what 
its eastern limits are. It does not occur west of India, nor in 
the south of India itself, neither does it ascend the hills for more 
than 5,000 feet, and only goes to that level in summer. In the 
foot-hills it is particularly common, and, generally speaking, 


it affects hilly country, so long as water is accessible and there is 
plenty of bamboo or tree-jungle, for it is essentially a woodland 
bird, though it will come out into the open where there is cultiva- 
tion in order to feed on the grain. Many of course never see 
grain all their lives, and live entirely on wild seeds, herbage, 
insects, &c. 

In Burma jungle-fowl are common both in the hills and plains, 
and extend into Tenasserim and Sumatra. Even if the Burmese 
and Malayan birds are truly wild, I quite agree with Hume that 
the genuine aboriginal wildness of the red jungle-fowl found in 
the East Indies beyond Sumatra is very doubtful. The very 
distinct green jungle-fowl (Gallus varius) ranges from Java 
to Flores, and looking to the distribution of jungle-fowl and 
similar birds generally, it is very unlikely that the red species 
originally lived alongside this bird. 

However, to consider more practical matters. This jungle-fowl 
may be looked for anywhere in the limits above specified if the 
country is suitable ; it avoids alike deserts and high cultivation, 
and is generally absent from alluvial land, though quite common 
in the Sundarbans. Here, however, it is suspected of being 
an introduced bird, as it certainly is on the Cocos. 

The fowl since its domestication by man has added no new 
note to its vocabulary : cackle, cluck and crow were its original 
language. But whereas the tame cock is always credited with 
saying "cock-a-doodle-doo," the wild bird's call is better ren- 
dered " cock-a-doodle-don't," given in a shrill, aggressive falsetto. 
Anyone who has heard a bantam crow knows exactly what I mean* 
for the notes of bantam and wild cock are indistinguishable. 
Like a bantam-cock, also, the wild bird will live quite happily 
with a single hen, though this is not universal, and harems are 
often found ; no doubtj as too often with his betters, polygamy is 
simply a matter of opportunity with chanticleer, though even in 
the tame state it is often obvious that he has a particular affec- 
tion for one hen, as was noticed by Chaucer in his " Nonnes 
Priestes Tale." Jungle-fowl of this species particularly affect 
sal jungle where it exists, and in India are seldom found away 
from it ; they roost on trees at night, and take to them in any case 
rather more readily than pheasants. Their flight is also much like 


that of pheasants, so that they afford very similar shooting if they 
can be driven ; but they will not rise if they can help it, and in thick- 
cover you cannot even see them as a rule without a dog to put 
them up. They will readily answer an imitation of their crow — 
at least I found it so the only time I tried ; and anyone can 
practise on a bantam-cock, which will probably attack them when 
he understands the insult ! 

Jungle-fowl themselves are exceedingly pugnacious, and have 
regular fighting-places in the jungle ; the duels are sometimes to 
the death, for the birds have enormous spurs. When chal- 
lenging, or courting a hen, the wild cock erects his tail like a 
tame one. After the breeding-season, which may be at any 
time during the first half of the year, but in the north at any 
rate only during the second quarter, the cock goes into un- 
dress, his flaming frill of hackles giving place to a sober short 
collar of black, and, as he loses his long tail " sickles " at the 
same time, he hardly looks like the same bird. Young cocks 
begin to show the male feathering long before they are full 
sized, and so are easily distinguishable from their sisters. In 
the autumn these yearling young birds are fat and particularly 
good eating. 

The jungle-hen lays on the ground in thickets, the nest 
being a mere scrape among dead leaves as a rule, but some 
make up a nest of hay and stalks, &c. About half a dozen 
eggs are the usual clutch, and they are cream-coloured and of 
course smaller than a tame hen's. The chicks are striped with 
chocolate and cream on a brown ground ; the mother looks 
after them with the greatest care and devoted courage. 

Naturally so widespread a bird as this has many names, 
mostly signifying the same as the English — wild fowl; Bon-hoTira 
in Bengali ; Ayam-utan in the Malay States ; Tau-hyet in Burma ; 
Natsii-pia among the Bhutias ; PazoJc-tchi with the Lepchas ; 
and Beer-seem among the Kols. 


Grey Jui\glc-fowl. 

Gallus sonnerati. Ran-komhadi, Mahratta. 

The grey jungle-fowl, which takes in the south of India 
the place occupied by the red species in the north, is so dis- 
tinct from this that a single feather would in many cases 
identify it. The cock is grey, the feathers both above and 
below being narrow, pointed, and with white shafts. The neck- 
feathers have bright yellow tips, and there is a- patch of orange 
on the wing, these yellow or orange tips being solid, not split 
up into barbs hke the rest of the feathers. In some individuals 
the tips of the neck-feathers are white instead of yellow. 

Those interested in fly-fishing probably already know this 
jungle-cock's hackle by sight, as it is one of the standard 
feathers for fly-dressing. After breeding they are replaced for 
a time by an undress collar of sooty black, and in young cocks 
this black neck is the first sign of masculine plumage to appear, 
so that in a flock they may easily be known from hens, whose 
necks are yellowish, though not so bright as the distinct yellow 
and black seen in the neck of the red jungle-ben. 

In her upper plumage generally, however, the grey jungle- 
hen is much like the red, being of a similar brown, but 
underneath she is very different — pure white, regularly edged 
on each feather with black. To those who know tame poultry 
she may well be called to mind as a bird with a Brown Leghorn 
hen's plumage above, and a Silver Wyandotte's below. Cocks 
have red legs, and hens and young birds yellow. 

In weight this species averages a few ounces more than the 
last, and it is more strongly built, but it seems to be far 
more timid and less plucky in disposition, although now and 
then found fighting furiously. So wary is it, and such a runner, 
that it affords but little sport unless it can be driven when work- 
ing the smaller sholas in the Nilgiris, where it is a well-known 
bird — in fact, it is common all through the hill ranges of 
Southern India, and ranges occasionally as high as seven 
thousand feet. It likes thin rather than thick jungle, and is 
especially attracted when bamboo or the strobilanthes under- 

' ;■/ 

I ''I 








/■ *^ a * 




■« " 


' ' w*'";. 









■ < 





growth is seeding. In the rains it spends a good deal of time 
in the trees even by day, and always roosts there. 

It is not nearly so sociable as the red jungle-fowl ; a 
party will only consist of an old pair and their young, and old 
cocks, which are particularly wary, are often found alone. 

The note is just as characteristic in this species as the 
plumage ; the crow is difficult to recognize as such at first, until 
one observes the deliberateness and periodicity of its production. 
I can only describe and imitate it by putting in words how 
it struck me when I at last caught a captive specimen in the act 
of challenging : " Oh lor' ! what a cac-kle !" Once known, how- 
ever, it can be recognized at a long distance ; but the birds- 
only crow when in full feather, i.e., from October to May. 

The cackle of the cock is more easily compared to that of the 
red jungle-fowl ; it seems to correspond to the last two notes of 
the familiar " tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-auk " of agitated poultry, and 
sounds like " tooruk, tooruk," pronounced in a harsh tone. The 
hen is rarely heard, but is said to be voluble when she does call, 
uttering a hoarse note like " uk-a-uk-a-uk " very rapidly, no 
doubt very like the cock's alarm-calls. 

On the western face of the Nilgiris these birds breed 
during the last quarter of the year, but the time is different 
in different localities, and somewhere or other they may be found 
nesting in almost any month. The eggs incline to be more 
numerous than those of the northern jungle-fowl, and are far 
more variable, being either short, with a coarse pitted glossy shell 
of rich buff, or long, fine-shelled and pale creamy, or some type 
between these, often brown-speckled. 

They have bred in captivity in England pretty freely, and in 
one case were crossed freely with game bantams, the resulting 
hybrids breeding freely every way. The same experimenter who 
bred these also bred the pure birds and turned them out in the 
woods, but found them too quickly destroyed by foxes to render the 
process worth keeping up ; but he mentioned that they got 
up wilder than the pheasants, and afforded better sport, being 
quicker and more difficult to hit. 

Davison, who was much impressed by what he believed to be 
the peaceful disposition of the species, says that they would not 


breed in captivity (in India), and cocks and hens would live 
together in peace ; no doubt this was simply because his birds 
never got into breeding form. Personally, from what I have 
seen of captive birds, I should never dream of letting two cocks be 
together along with hens. The ranges of the two species of 
Indian jungle-fowl meet in places, and in a bit of sal jungle near 
Panchmarhi the red bird is found in the middle of territory 
occupied by the present kind. Jerdon once shot a hybrid at one 
of the meeting points — on the Godavari where it joins the 
Indravati — so that it is as well to mention, for the better recogni- 
tion of such, that the peculiar horny spangles of the grey 
"bird's hackle are lost in the cross, but that the characteristic light 
shafts to the plumage of the cock and light centres to the hen's 
breast feathers show up very distinctly ; at least that was the 
case with a pair of hybrids bred between a Sonnerat or grey cock 
and a mongrel bantam hen in the London Zoo in 1913. The 
cock hybrid bird's crow was also distinct, in four syllables, 
" cock-a-doo-doo." In general appearance he was very like a 
mongrel reddish bantam, but had the breast reddish as well 
as the back, and no grey anywhere, this being, so to speak, over- 
laid with orange-red. 

Ceylon Junglc-fow^l. 

Gallus lafayettii."^ Well kiikula, Cingalese. 

Even if it were not confined to Ceylon, and the only species of 
jungle-fowl found in that island, there would be no difficulty in 
distinguishing the Ceylon jungle-fowl. 

The cock's plumage, red below as well as above, and with the 
same narrow feathers, glassy-lustred everywhere, is quite distinct 
from that of either of the mainland species, to say nothing of the 
yellow patch in the middle of the red of his comb. 

The hen, like the cock, shows her distinction from the red 
jungle-fowl of the north in her under plumage chiefly ; this, 
instead of the fawn-colour found in the hen of the red jungle- 
fowl, is black-and-white, not in the form of white centres and 

* stanletji on plate. 



black edcres to the feathers as in the hen grey jungle-fowl, but 
irregularly mottled and intermixed with brown. Her comb is 
particularly small even for a wild hen's, and her face feathered 
like a partridge's, not bare as in the hen of the mainland jungle- 

Young cocks can be distinguished from hens by being more 
reddish on the brown upper parts and having only black and 
i)rown below, with no white. 

The voice of this jungle-fowl is quite as distinct from that 
of the two mainland birds as his plumage is, if the words 
"George Joyce" or "John Joyce," the renderings given of it, 
are at all correct. A bird in the London Zoo, believed to be 
a hybrid Ceylon common fowl, crowed in three syllables " cock- 

Hybrids between the jungle-fowl and tame poultry are liable 
to occur, as the wild bird sometimes crosses with village hens, 
being able to overcome their consorts ; so the characteristic 
points of yellow-patched comb and glazed lower plumage should 
be borne in mind in determining the characteristics of a genuine 

Many tame cocks of a red colour — if not most, in places 
where poultry breed anyhow — have reddish-brown instead of 
black breasts, but on examination it will be seen that the 
feathering here is ordinary, not glazed like that of the upper 
parts, so that there is no reason to believe that such birds 
have a cross of the Ceylon wild fowl. Similarly, the grey domestic 
fowls, which are also common, are never marked in detail like the 
grey Sonnerat cock, nor have they his peculiar pointed feathering. 

Hybrids with the Ceylon jungle-fowl and common fowl, by 
the way, have been proved fertile, with one of the parents at 

In Ceylon this bird is very generally distributed in all jungly 
portions, but favours low rather than high ground in the north, 
and in the south is scarcer and more a bird of the hills. It likes 
a dry soil and scrub-jungle, especially of thorn and bamboo. The 
cocks are far more often seen than the hens, though no doubt the 
inconspicuousness of the latter has a good deal to do with this ; 
but in any case they are shyer in disposition. More than one 


hen and brood often associate, and flocks of these jungle-fowl 
may sometimes be seen feeding on cultivated land, but on the 
whole the species, like the grey jungle-fowl, seems to be more 
shy and unsociable than the red bird of the north. It also 
resembles the grey jungle-cock in taking a good deal to trees 
in wet weather, and in its fondness for Strobilanthes seed, the 
" nilloo " of Ceylon, on which the bird feeds so greedily that 
it seems to become stupefied, being a plant of this genus. 

There is a point of affinity with the red jungle-fowl, however, 
not only in the colour of the male of this bird, but in his habit of 
flapping his wings before he crows ; this, as far as I have seen, 
the grey bird does not do, but in this species, as in the red 
jungle-cock and his tame descendants, the habit must be very 
pronounced, for shooters can and do decoy the cocks within shot 
by imitating this sound, the native doing it by striking the thigh 
with the slightly-curved open hand. Any other noise will cause 
the wary bird to run off at once. 

The food of this bird consists chiefly of wild seeds, but also of 
insects, especially of white ants. In one part of Ceylon or the 
other it may be found breeding at any time of the year, depending 
apparently on the incidence of the north-east monsoon ; it is 
even thought that the birds may be double-brooded, and they 
seem to pair. The young, even the full grown, have been seen 
to show great reluctance to leave their dead mother when she 
had been shot. 

The small clutch of two to four eggs is laid on the ground 
in a scanty nest in some thicket or at times on a decayed log, are 
much pale buff, and speckled finely and spotted with rusty red, 
like many eggs of the grey jungle-fowl, to which this species, in 
spite of its red colour, is probably quite as nearly related as it 
is to the red bird, unless it represents the ancestor of both, as 
seems possible from the hybrid grey and domestic specimen 
before-mentioned, having come out reddish below as well as 
above. Moreover, this hybrid, like the grey jungle-fowl, had a 
purple, not green, tail, and this is also the case with the Ceylon 

The legs of this species are also said to be j^ellow, but, 
Lewis Wright, in Cassell's " Book of Poultry," says, pink in the 


cock, which is far more Hkely to be correct, for the cock grey 
jungle-fowl has salmon-coloured legs. 

The female of this species is called in Cingalese Weli kikili, 
and the Tamil name is Kaida koli. 

Red Spur-fowl. 

Galloperdix spadicea. Chota jungli murghi, Hindustani. 

The scientific name "cock-partridge" and the Hindustani 
one, " little jungle-fowl," give a very good idea of the character 
of this queer little wild bantam, though it is a bantam ]ien, not 
a cock, which it resembles, the tail being short and hen-like, 
while there are no hackle-feathers. The comb is also wanting, 
but the eyes are surrounded with a red bare skin, and the feet 
and bill are also red. The hen is also not so very unlike some 
fowls, a light, sometimes greyish brown, more or less pencilled 
across with black, but the cock is of a strikingly distinct colour, 
being of an almost uniform chestnut throughout, though this 
again is much like the shade of the much-boomed '' Rhode 
Island Red " poultry. 

Although lacking the distinctive decorations of their aristo- 
cratic relations, the jungle-fowl, spur-fowl easily surpass them 
in the practical matter of armature ; the cock has usually two 
spurs on each leg, sometimes more, while it is a poor hen that 
cannot raise at least one spur on one leg, and some have two on 
one and one on the other. 

The distribution of this bird is curious ; it is scattered about 
here and there throughout the Indian Peninsula ; yet though it 
does not extend north of the Ganges in this region, it turns up 
again in the Oudh Tarai. It is essentially a bird of hilly and 
rocky jungle, and is never found in flat country or open land of 
any sort. It is very shy, seldom coming into cultivation, and 
even when its haunts are invaded always greatly prefers running 
to flying. It is very swift on foot, and even a dog has difficulty 
in putting it up ; when it does rise, it goes off with a whirr and 
loud cackle, and is easily shot, but not at all easily retrieved if 
not killed, as it goes to ground like a rabbit. In fact the best 


way of getting it is to treat it like one, and shoot it running, as 
Hume says. It is a perching bird, roosting at night, and being 
fond of taking to a thick bush when put up by a dog, a refuge 
from which it is most difficult to dislodge it. In compensation 
for its extreme aversion to giving a sporting chance to the gunner, 
it is an excellent bird for the table, and Hume considers it best 
of the Indian partridge tribe. But it is hard to get many of 
them ; about two or three in a day's shooting is about what may 
be expected on the Nilgiris, where they range up to 5,000 feet, 
or even over. Although often in coveys of four or five, they 
even then do not go off all at once, but now and then, and here 
and there, and they are frequently found in pairs, sometimes 
even alone. 

The cackling call which re-unites a scattered flock is said to 
be much like that of a hen, and they are credited with a crowing 
call, which seems, however, to be rarely heard. Their chief food 
is jungle berries, seeds, and insects, but they will occasionally 
come into fields for grain, and they seem to need water frequently, 
as they are constantly to be found near it, and a thorny ravine 
with a stream in it is the surest locality for them. 

This bird is suspected of breeding twice in the year, but the 
only certain season is during the first six months ; the nest is on 
the ground, in cover, and the eggs are rather like small hens' 
eggs of the brown-tinted variety so much esteemed; they vary 
a good deal in shade, and seven or eight seems to be the maximum 
set, though smaller and larger numbers occur. 

The red spur-fowl is fairly well off for names ; if its Mahratta 
title, kokatii, does describe its call well, it certainly must have 
a note that can be fairly called a crow. The Deccan Mahrattas, 
however, call it Kustoor ; in Telugu it is Yerra or Jitta-kodi, 
and in Tamil Sarrava koli. 

Painted Spur-fowl. 

Galloperdix lunulatus. Askal, Orissa. 

The white- spotted cock of the painted spur-fowl is a very 
pretty and distinct-looking bird, as far as the plumage goes, 
but the absence of the bright red colouring of the bill and 


feet, which are dull blackish, and the very faint indication 
of red round the eye, make the dull, plain, brown hen a very 
ordinary looking creature ; her only noticeable point of colour is 
the chestnut face. 

The ground-colour of the cock's plumage is chestnut above 
for the most part, but the crown and shoulders are glossy green- 
black ; on the buff breast the spots are black instead of white, 
and the head and neck are all black and white. 

The Askal is generally seen when rocky hills are being beaten 
for big game, such places being its usual resorts, but they must 
have plenty of vegetable cover as well as stones. Even when 
thus forced out, the birds will only fly once, going to ground 
among the boulders when they have had one flight ; on the wing 
they look much like jungle-fowls and, unlike the last species, do 
not drop readily to a shot ; they resemble it, however, in their 
speed of foot. 

This also is a very local bird, and although its area of habitat 
is much the same as that of the red spur- fowl, it is not found 
in the north-west, while it extends east to Bengal, and is wanting 
on the coast of Malabar. Moreover, in localities where the red 
spur-fowl is found this species is generally wanting, and vice 
versa, so that on the whole their distribution does not coincide 
nearly so much as might be imagined from the consideration of 
their range as a whole. The choice of station, too, is somewhat 
different in the two species, since, though both love hills and 
thick cover, the present one is more distinctively and exclusively 
a rock-haunter. The call is said to be a peculiar loud chur, chur, 
chur, anything but fowl-like, but Jerdon, in speaking of the 
" fine cackhng sort of call, very fowl-Hke," attributes this to the 
males, so that no doubt the challenge and alarm-notes are, as 
one would expect, quite different. Not only is the bird very shy 
and hard to get, but it is not so succulent and gamey in character 
of flesh as the red spur-fowl. The cocks have been found in 
confinement to be very pugnacious, and their black legs are as 
well provided with spurs as are the red ones of the other species ; 
hens also are usually armed in the same way, with a pair of 
spurs or a single one. 

The five eggs, which may be found as early as March or as 


late as June, are laid on the ground ; they are buff in colour. In 
spite of their natural shyness, 'the old birds show great boldness 
when accompanying chicks ; they will try to draw away pursuit 
by artifice, and if a chick be captured will come within a few 

This species is well distinguished by names ; though in Telugu 
it shares the name Jitta-hodi with the last, it is called Kul 
koli in Tamil, while the Gond name is Hutha and the Uriya 

Ceylon Spur-fowl. 

Galloperdix bicalcarata. Haban-kukula, Cingalese. 

It is not only in appearance that the spur-fowls are like 
jungle-fowl, but in distribution, there being two in India and 
one in Ceylon, while there is a curious coincidence in colour, 
the most northern and southern species of the jungle-fowl 
having red plumage, while in the spur-fowl it is the red species, 
which alone is found in Northern India, and the present southern- 
most one, which have the red legs and conspicuous red skin 
round the eyes. 

As to plumage the cock of this bird is not unlike a richly 
coloured edition of the hen of the grey jungle-fowl, having the 
neck and flanks white with black edgings to the feathers, these 
edgings failing on the breast ; the back shows the characteristic 
spur-fowl chestnut. The brown plumage of the hen is rendered 
distinctive by the contrast of the red eye patch and extremities, 
otherwise she is more like the hen of the painted than of the 
red species — another coincidence with the jungle-fowl, in which 
it will be remembered the hen of the Ceylon species is more like 
the grey than the red jungle-fowl hen. The white spots on 
the cock's wings also recall the markings of the painted spur- 

The Ceylon spur-fowl makes itself well known wherever 
found by its cackling call, the notes being on an ascending scale, 
and beginning at about 6 o'clock in the morning ; but as it is a 
decided ventriloquist, very swift-footed, and an adept at taking 
cover, hearing it is one thing and getting a shot at it another. 


It especially affects hills, but must always have cover, and hence 
its absence from the north of the island is not surprising, as the 
jungle there is too open for its tastes. In many places it is quite 
abundant, and is always found in small coveys, which, as Legge 
suggests, are no doubt families. The cock calls a scattered 
covey together by a pipe like a turkey-chick's, which changes to 
a louder whistle as the birds get an answer or become more 
confident. The cocks are very quarrelsome with each other, 
and, as in the other species, have several spurs, while the hens 
are also spurred as a rule. 

Layard considered this bird very good eating, and much 
resembling grouse ; it weighs about twelve ounces if a cock, but 
the hens are about three ounces lighter. The four creamy eggs 
have been found in February, May, July, and October ; they are 
laid on the ground in forest. 

Common or Whitc-crcstcd Kalij. 

*Gen)iceus albocristatus. Kalij, Hindustani. 

Of the narrow-crested, fowl-tailed, red-faced, black and white 
hill pheasants known as kalijes, the present is the best known, 
occupying as it does, a great range from the borders of Afghanistan 
to those of Nepal, and being seen near the ways and works of 
men more than any other pheasant. From all his relatives 
and from all other Indian game birds, the cock's long but 
skimpy white crest will distinguish him; the blue-black of his 
upper parts gets very rusty about the shoulders, and is diversified 
by white bars lower down the back ; underneath he is of a very 
soiled white and whity-brown, the feathers here being long and 
pointed, as in all these white-breasted kalijes. His whitish 
legs are spurred. 

The hen is of a type very distinctive of this group. She is 
crested and red-faced like the cock, and has the tail but little 
shorter. Her brown plumage, though with pale edges, is only 
really diversified by the black outer tail feathers. 

* Euplocamus on plate. 


In its Himalayan home this kahj chiefly frequents the middle 
and outer ranges, and is also found in the SiwaUks, alone of 
all the Himalayan pheasants. In winter time it comes down 
near the roads and cultivation, ranging? in summer up to the 
haunts of the moonal and tragopan, even as high as 10,000 feet ; 
but, generally speaking, it may be said to inhabit an intermediate 
zone between these and the jungle-fowl and peafowl of the 

It always keeps near or in cover of some sort, but prefers 
low to high jungle, and especially haunts wooded hollows and 
ravines, even in the interior, where it may be found in any 
sort of forest ; it does not as a rule go into woods far from 
human habitations, even the former traces of man's occupation 
being an attraction to it. Yet, like that most domesticated of 
birds, the house sparrow, it does not bear confinement at all 
well ; such birds probably know or suspect man too much to 
be happy when in his power. 

Its desire for grain, which it can generally procure in human 
neighbourhood, especially from the droppings of domestic animals, 
is no doubt the great reason for this approach to the enemy 
of its kind, but it also, of course, feeds largely on the shoots, 
berries and insects that form, as it were, the standard natural 
food of pheasants. 

Although three, four, or a dozen may be found near each 
other, the birds are not really gregarious, and when breeding 
go in pairs ; moreover, the cocks are exceedingly pugnacious to 
each other. Their challenge, common to all the group, is a 
peculiar drumming made by rapidly whirring the wings. The 
call is a sharp tweet-tweet or whistling chuckle, given out on 
rising, and continued excitedly when the bird is treed by some 
terrestrial foe. When thus treed the kalij is far from being 
brought to book, for it often keeps a wary eye open, and when 
discovered will drop down on the wrong side of the tree for the 
gunner and make off. Its flight is exceedingly fast, but it travels 
fast on foot also, and unless it has not been worried by man, 
and so is fairly steady when treed, is not easy to get in any 
number, and so falls under the head of casual game rather than 
a regular sporting bird. I can find no note on its edible 


qualities, but the group generally are not better eating than 
ordinary tame fowls. 

These birds breed from the Tarai to an elevation of 8,000 feet, 
so that it is not surprising that the eggs may be found, according 
to elevation, from early in April to late in June. The nest is 
well hidden in low cover, such as grass or fern, but is very slight 
as a rule. The sitting is usually nine, and the colour is some 
shade of buff. They are about the size of small hen's eggs. 
The hen sits, says Hume, for rather over three weeks, and the 
cock keeps with her and the brood till they are nearly full grown. 
The mature weight of this bird, by the way, is rather over two 
pounds in the cock and about half a pound less in the hen. In 
the North-west Himalayas the sexes are discriminated by name — 
Kalesiir, applying to the cock, and Kalesi to the hen, while 
Kolsa is the Punjabi and Chamba name for the species. As 
wild hybrids are very rare in India, it is worth mentioning that 
Hume once shot a male bird which he thought must have been 
a cross between this and a koklass, and Captain Fisher got one 
which had the head, neck, and crest of the kalij, while the back 
and alternate feathers of the tail were like a monal's. 

Nepal Kalij. 

*GenncBus leucomelanus. liechaho, Bhutia. 

It is not at all surprising that this species in Hindustani 
simply shares the name of Kalij with the common white-crested 
bird, for except that the present bird has a black crest, not quite 
so long and therefore not drooping, the two are practically alike, 
blue-black above and dirty-white below, with the rump trans- 
versely barred with pure white. The kalij of Nepal, however, 
which is not found elsewhere, and is at any rate, except, perhaps, 
on the extreme eastern and western ends of that kingdom, the 
only kind found there, is not quite so rusty-looking above as the 
white-crested, nor so stout and pale in the leg, nor is it quite so 
large in most cases. 

*Eux)locamus on plate. 


The hen is a brown, narrow-crested, hen-tailed bird Hke 
the white-crested kahj hen, but it is sHghtly darker, with a 
shorter crest, which does not show the greyish tinge found in 
the crest of the hen of the other species ; but the hen kahjes of 
this type can hardly be separated with any readiness or certainty, 
at any rate by a beginner. The young cock, gets his full plumage 
during his first year, when about five months old ; three months' 
old chicks are brown with some black bars above. 

The Nepal kalij is much the commonest of the pheasants of 
its native state ; it is strictly a hill bird, with a rather limited 
vertical range, never going down to the Tarai region, and 
rarely ascending over 9,000 feet. It keeps to thick forest and 
is a great percher, not only roosting on trees, but being 
commonly met with perched in them as one makes one's vi^ay 
through forest, according to Dr. Scully. It may be, however, 
that the birds seen so much aloft have simply " treed " through 
alarm in many cases. When approached, Dr. Scully says, they 
fly rapidly down and run off. He found the best plan to shoot 
them was" to wait, in winter, when the birds come down to the 
foot of the hills near the trees to which they resort to roost, 
though occasionally a shot could be got at one as it crossed a 
path. He found the birds stood captivity well, and he reared 
chicks to maturity, which conflicts with what others say about 
the difhculty of keeping the pheasants of this group. But in 
these matters a great deal must be allowed for skill, and Dr. 
Scully, as a medical man, would naturally bring more intelligence 
to his task than the ordinary " man in the street " who is 
generally a hopeless bungler with live stock, even if he is 
interested in them from a sportmg or natural history point of 
view, unless he has had some experience with tame things. 

The birds usually go in pairs or small parties up to ten in 
number. All that is known about the breeding is that a chick 
so young as to measure only two inches in the closed wing, is 
recorded by Scully as captured in June ; it was rufous brown on 
the head and dirty buff below, with no stripes apparently. 


Black-backed Kalij. 

*Gennaus melanonotiis. Muthura, Bengali. 

The black-backed kalij of Sikkim, although generally similar 
to the last two species, blue-black above and dirty white below, 
differs from both in having no white at all on the upper surface, 
not only the crest, but also the rump being blue-black continuous 
with the rest of the upper parts, whose silky purple seems to me 
particularly uniform and rich in this species. The crest, as in 
the last species, is not so long as in the white-crested kind ; but 
the bird seems to be quite as large. The weights of these kalijes, 
however, intergrade so that size cannot be considered of any 
importance in dealing with them. 

The hen is of the same sober brown as that of the other two, 
with narrow crest ; but like that of the Nepal kalij, she is 
rather darker altogether than the hen of the white-crested bird. 
The legs are described as pale horny brown, darker than those 
of the white-crested. 

This kalij extends into Bhutan on one side of its range, 
while on the other it encroaches on Nepal, but its characteristic 
home is Sikkim ; its Lepcha name is Kar-rhyak, Kirrik in Bhutan. 
It ranges from quite the foot of the hills up to 6,000 feet, and is 
common in tea gardens, or used to be, but more than a genera- 
tion ago Hume noted that the garden coolies used to find its 
nests among the tea and destroy its eggs, so that he anticipated 
it would become comparatively rare, especially as it was inclined 
to affect the outer hills which were being taken up for tea- 
cultivation rather than the interior. 

It always keeps to cover of some sort, and is just as much at 
home among the tea as in jungly growth ; ravines well bushed 
over are its favourite haunts. Gammie found it very tame in 
Sikkim, so that when met with feeding on the roads in morning 
and evening it would only walk out of the way when disturbed. 
During the day it shuns the sun, and seldom perches unless put 
up by some enemy on the ground. Human intruders it avoids 

* EuplocamuH on plate. 


by running, or if that is impossible takes a short low flight and 
settles on the ground again. Its alarm note is given by Gammie 
as Jcoorchi, koorchi, Jcoorchi, while the challenge call is koor, koor 
and the fighting note waak, loaak. The same drumming with 
the wings as is indulged in by other kalijes is also performed by 
this one, and the natives, apparently with reason, regard it as a 
presage of rain. 

It is a very omnivorous bird, eating all sorts of insects, except 
ants, which the natives told Gammie were refused by captive 
birds ; beetle grubs and wild yams, and the fruits of the totney 
and yellow raspberry, are favourite articles of food, and grain 
of all sorts is readily devoured, with the shoots of nettles and 
even ferns. The flesh is not very good, and the bird affords little 
sport, being a great runner, and affecting cover so thick that 
even a dog can do little in it. 

About Darjeeling it has been noticed to be very constant to 
its roosting-trees and even keeps to the same bough, so that it is 
easily located by its accumulated droppings. It generally goes 
in pairs or only three or four together, and the cocks fight much 
in the breeding season. 

Although in the higher parts of its range hard-set eggs have 
been found at the end of July, at the other end of its zone, low 
down, they may be laid in March, no one seems to have seen 
any sort of a nest constructed, the eggs being laid in grass or 
under cover of bush, fern, or rocks on the ground itself. Hume 
never heard of more than ten eggs in a clutch, and their colour 
varies from pale brown to pinkish cream-colour. 

Purple or Horsficld's Kalij. 

*GenncBus horsfieldi. Dorik, Assam. 

Like the last species, this bird has the native name Muthura, 
and it is certainly allied to it, though more nearly to the next to 
be mentioned. It differs from the three most typical kalijes in 
having the underparts black with feathers of the ordinary rounded 

* Euplocamus on plate. 

\ ^'ifj^- 








shape, not pointed ; from this it is often called the black-breasted 
kalij, a rather misleading name, as it gives the impression that 
the black breast contrasts with the upper surface, which is not 
the case. In fact, the bird is the most simply and uniformly- 
coloured of all our pheasants, its purple-glossed black plumage 
being only relieved by white bars on the lower back. The crest 
is long and narrow. 

The hen bird is very similar to the hens of the three white- 
breasted kalijes, both in plumage and crest ; the only special 
point she shows is the contrast between the reddish-brown of the 
central tail-feathers with the more olive-brown of the rump ; 
but the difference is slight, and she can hardly be picked out 
from the others above-mentioned, while curiously enough she 
has no such near resemblance in colour to the hen of the lineated 
pheasant next to be dealt with, a much closer ally. 

The purple or black-breasted kalij is a hill-bird like the group 
generally, and ranges from Chittagong to the Daphia hills and 
Eastern Bhutan, extending also to the northern parts of Arrakan 
and to Burma as far as Bhamo ; Southern Manipur is also 
within its range, but its exact limits are not very easy to 
determine, as interbreeding between it and other forms 
undoubtedly goes on. It is not so high in its range on the 
hills as the white-breasted kalijes, seldom going above 4,000 
feet and haunting jungle at the edge of cultivation and along 
rivers. Except for this, its habits, like its size, show no par- 
ticular distinction from those of the three previous kalijes. It 
keeps mostly to cover, and only shows sport when hunted up 
with dogs, when it often takes to trees. Well-wooded hills and 
ravines are favourite resorts, and only a few birds are seen 
together, pairs being more usual, though as many as eight or 
even eleven birds have been seen in a party. When flushed it 
rises noisily, and with a shrill repeated cheep. 

The cocks are exceedingly pugnacious ; two have been found 
fighting with such fury that both were captured by hand, in a 
much pecked and exhausted state ; and one has been seen to 
stand up for some time to a red jungle-cock, which won in the 
end, the casus belli having been a white ant heap, on the 
swarming inmates of which these cantankerous birds could not 


agree to dine in peace. The flesh of this kahj, by the way, 
although white, is not as good as that of the jungle-fowl ; a cock 
may weigh about three pounds, but is usually less. Besides 
insects, they feed on worms, shoots, and grain, for which they 
will often scratch in horse-dung. They are reported very difficult 
to tame, but nevertheless the species has often been brought to 
Europe, and has been during the time of writing represented at 
the London Zoo. I notice that when frightened the bird raises 
and spreads out his thin stiff crest horizontally, so that it is very 
broad and conspicuous. 

The eggs of this bird may be found from March to June; 
they are warm light brown to pale buff in tint, and strong 
shelled ; four have been found in a nest, which is made of dry 
leaves on the ground. 

In the Garo Hills this species is known as Durug or Dirrik. 

Litveated Kalij. 

*Gennceus lineatus. Yit, Burmese. 

The lineated kalij, which closely resembles the purple kalij 
in size, form, and even the habit of erecting and spreading out 
the crest, is the most westerly of the group of black-breasted, 
pencilled-backed pheasants which culminate in the well-known 
silver pheasant of our aviaries, which is a South Chinese bird. 
It is generally distributed over hilly country in Burma, and is 
sometimes called the Burmese silver pheasant, or even, as by 
Hume, by the very awkward name of " vermicellated " pheasant. 
" Grey-backed kalij " would really be the best name for it, as it is 
a typical kalij in size and shape, hen-tailed and narrow-crested, 
while the most striking point about it is the contrast between its 
delicate grey upper surface and black crest and under-parts. The 
pure white along the upper half of the centre tail-feathers is also 
a striking colour-point, and with the scarlet face, goes to make 
up a singularly handsome, if quiet-looking bird. 

For comparison with other races it should be noted that the 
grey of the back is not a solid colour, but made up of very fine 

* Euplocamns on plate. 




pencilling of black and white lines, such as is seen on the backs 
of many of the males of the duck tribe, but very rarely elsewhere ; 
it is irregular and does not follow the edges of the feathers. 

The hen bird is quite like the hens of the white-breasted and 
purple kalijes in form, and is also brown above, but her under 
plumage and neck are different, as are also the outer tail-feathers, 
being variegated, the former with well-marked white streaks, the 
latter with tranverse pencillings of white on the black ground. 

The lineated kalij, like the purple, does not range high up, 
even 4,000 feet being generally higher than it cares to go, 
while it has no objection to sea-level if it can get suitable 
jungly cover and ravines or similar declivities. What it especially 
likes is long grass, bamboos, small trees, and brushwood, on hill- 
sides ; and it prefers deciduous-leaved trees to evergreen forest. 
On account of the steepness and treacherous character of much 
of the ground it frequents, it is often not easy to shoot, and is 
a great runner, though a dog will put it up readily enough. 

It has, in fact, the regular kalij habits ; it is, for instance, 
usually found in pairs, though broods may keep together. The 
cock challenges by whirring with his wings ; the alarm-note is 
a whistled yit, whence no doubt the native name in Burmese. In 
Arrakanese the name is Bak, in Karen Phugyk, while the Talain 
name is Synklouk. 

It is a mixed feeder, but has a special liking for ants, black 
as well as white, and for the figs of the peepul ; in places where 
it can get the succulent shoot of a certain orchid to feed upon 
it can do without water for some time, but usually likes to be 
near it, drinking at about 10 a.m. In some localities it avoids 
cultivation altogether, in others it will come freely out into rice 
fields to obtain grain. It also feeds on young leaves and grass. 

One curious habit, observed by Colonel Bingham, is that it 
often comes into clearings on bright moonlight nights, a most 
curious trait in a pheasant or any nearly allied bird. Chicks 
are said to be hard to rear, but the species has often been brought 
to Europe, and, hke the purple, was on view at the London Zoo 
at the time of writing. 

It has hybridized in captivity with the Chinese silver 
pheasant, the resulting hybrid being practically identical with 


the doubtful form known as Anderson's silver pheasant {Genncdus 
andersoni). Owing also to hybridism in the wild state, both with 
the purple kalij and silver pheasant, the limits of this bird are 
hard to fix. Eggs of the lineated kalij may be found from March 
to May, in a hollow scratched out among dry leaves or scratched 
in the ground and lined with such leaves, but are generally well 
hidden. The eggs are seldom more than eight and are of a buff 
or stone colour with a pinkish tinge. 

Silver Pheasant. 

Gennmiis nycthemerus. 

The lovely silver pheasant, for the last century domesticated 
at home, is not known as a wild bird in India, but as he lives as 
near as South China, and his hybrid offspring infest our border- 
ing states, to the great bewilderment of sportsmen and naturalists, 
he comes into the tangled tale of the pencilled-backed kalijes. The 
cock silver pheasant has a folded tail, but it is long, and the top 
feathers are so long and arched that the general effect looks quite 
different from that of the tail of other kalijes. These top feathers 
are pure white, and white is the ground colour of the rest of the 
plumage except for the blue-black underparts and crest. The 
black pencilling is regular, but extremely fine and inconspicuous 
except on the wings and side tail-feathers. The crest droops as 
in the white-crested or common kalij, but is far fuller than in 
that or any other species. The legs are red as well as the face 
in both sexes. The hen has a short crest, hardly noticeable, and 
black ; and perfectly plain brown plumage, the only markings 
being irregular black and white pencilling on the outside tail 
feathers. Young birds have this pencilling on the breast, and 
the cock, which does not get his full colour till the second 
year, goes through a most peculiar series of changes before and 
while moulting into it, the feathers appearing to change colour 
without a moult to some extent. A maturing specimen of this 
sex might easily be referred to half a dozen species at various 
times, as species have been reckoned in this group. 

The form known as Anderson's silver pheasant {Gennceus 



i"'- ^ 






andersoni) from the Kachin Hills and the Ruby Mines, seems 
simply to be a hybrid between this bird and the lineated kalij ; 
bat the bird figured by Hume as Crawford's silver pheasant 
{EiLplocamus andersoni on plate) seems to me the same bird with 
a further cross of the lineated. As further intermediate forms 
occur between these half-silver pheasants and the purple kalij, and 
as that bird also undoubtedly grades into the lineated kalij where 
their ranges approach, through more interbreeding, it will be 
seen that it is very difficult to draw any lines between all these 
black-breasted kalijes, silvered or plain ; and we may ultimately 
have to come to the astonishing conclusion that they are all of 
the same species, of which the type will have to be the Chinese 
silver pheasant, as the oldest kind known. 

Firc-back Pheasant. 

*Lophura rufa. Mooah-mooah, Malay. 

The splendid fire-back pheasant, distinguished from all other 
members of the kalij group, to which it belongs, by its sky-blue 
face, high bushy crest, and large size, which even in the hen 
goes up to three and a half pounds and in the cock may reach 
five, is only found in Southern Tenasserim, being one of the 
many Malay forms which just penetrate our dominions in that 
direction. Its eastern limit is Sumatra, an allied but distinct 
species replacing it in Borneo. 

Living where it does, this species is not likely to be confused 
with the Himalayan monal, also a big pheasant with a blue face, 
but utterly different in every other way. The cock fire-back, in 
addition to the splendid patch of colour which gives him his 
name, is remarkable for the lustrous navy-blue of his plumage, 
set off by white flank-splashes and the white centre-feathers of 
the curved but folded and hen-like tail, and the coral-red legs, 
armed with great white spurs. The hen is quite as distinct in 
her way, on account of her bright foxy-red plumage, marked 
with black and white below ; her legs are red like the cock's, 
whereas those of the Bornean fire-back are white in both sexes. 

* Euplocamits vieilloti on plate. 


Her crest is quite well developed, though not so large as the 
cock's. ' 

In Tenasserim, Davidson found this bird associating in small 
parties, consisting of a male with his harem, though solitary' 
males sometimes occurred ; they always kept to the cover of the 
evergreen forests, and scratched a good deal. Their food was 
the usual mixed diet of pheasants — leaves, berries, and insects. 
When alarmed, the covey ran off together, but could be put up 
by a dog, when they would fly strongly for a couple of hundred 
yards and then settle and begin to run again. 

The cocks frequently challenged in the usual manner of the 
group, by whirring with their wings ; and that they are as 
wantonly vicious in their wild state as they are in captivity was 
proved by Davison having seen one repeatedly drive a cock argus 
from his bachelor sanctum ; the poor bird, though he would 
come back at the bully's whirring challenge, being naturally 
afraid to stand up to his formidably armed and active antagonist. 

Besides the wing-buzzing, the cocks have a vocal alarm-note, 
which Davison compares to that of the big black-backed squirrel 
(Sciurus bicolor), that fine fellow as big as a cat which is so 
conspicuous in the forests ; the heiis also have the same sharp 
cry. The egg is known to be buff, and very like some hen's eggs, 
as these birds have laid in captivity ; but no eggs seem to have 
been taken in the wild state, although the breeding-season 
appears to be known, and is said to be in the monsoon. 

White Eared-Pheasant. 

Crossoptilum tihetanum. 

This beautiful large white pheasant, with its snowy loose 
plumage so well set off by its purple-glossed tail and red face and 
legs, has never been actually taken in British territory, though 
it is suspected of occurring on some of the Bhutan passes. It is 
really a Tibetan and Chinese bird, and Hume was induced to 
figure it chiefly in order to reproduce a copy of the figure of it 
given by Hodgson, who described it in 1838, and to quote his 
description, whiah was buried in one of the earlier volumes of 
the Asiatic Society's Journal. 











There is no need to repeat this description, as the bird is so 
distinct that if it does turn up in British territory it cannot be 
mistaken for anything else ; but in it Hodgson seems to have 
been curiously mistaken in two points. He says, first, nothing 
at all about the curious erect white ear-tufts which the bird has 
like the few other members of the Crossoptilum group — though 
it must be admitted that they are shortest in this species — nor 
does his drawing show them. He also describes the bird's tail 
as " broadly convex, without any sign of the galline compression 
and curve," the fact being that in all these eared pheasants the 
tail is folded and fowl-like, with the top feathers curved, and 
even looser-webbed than the rest. Hodgson's bird was got from 
a Nepalese envoy who had been to Pekin, but it is now too late 
to ask where he got it ! 

In China, according to Pere David, this bird inhabits bushy 
localities and is very sedentary and sociable, even during the 
breeding-season. Being poor eating, and respected by native 
superstition, it has a better chance of survival than its near 
relative, the only one usually seen in Europe, the brown 
crossoptilum (C. mantcliuricum) which he regards as in danger of 
extinction, owing to persecution and the cutting down of the 
forests. The white crossoptilum has been exhibited at the 
London Zoo, but I never saw but the one specimen. 

Koklass Pheasant, 

Pucrasia macrolopha. KoMas, Hindustani. 

Sometimes called the Pukras, from another native name 
Pokras, this pheasant is very distinct in type from all our other 
species ; the tail, though short for a pheasant, is pointed, and the 
head provided with a long crest, in three portions, for only 
the central part grows from the crown, two longer tufts proceed- 
ing from the sides of the head, which is deep green in colour 
except for the central crest, which is pale brown. Just where 
the head joins the neck there is a long oblique white spot on each 

The colour of the body-plumage, which is long and pointed,. 


and longitudinally streaked for the most part, varies much accord- 
ing to locality, and several species used to be distinguished on 
this account, though so much variability occurs that they are 
not very tenable. Speaking generally, the koklass is a grey-bodied 
bird, with the centre of the under-parts chestnut, reaching right 
up to the neck in front, and sometimes extending backwards on 
it. The grey feathers are streaked with black, and either of 
these colours may predominate at the expense of the others, 
while the characters may be combined in different ways. The 
birds range nearly all along the Himalayas, and the local varia- 
tions may be thus summed up. 

I In the North-west, where the typical macrolopha is the form 
found, there is as much grey as black on the body-feathers. 
In Nepalese birds, the so-called P. nepalensis, which is figured 
separately by Hume, though he himself was inclined to treat them 
all as one species, the body-feathers have more black than grey, 
so that the bird looks much darker. In Kashmir birds, which 
have been distinguished as P. biddulphi, the peculiarity consists 
in an extension of the chestnut colour on the sides of the neck. 
Even in the "Fauna of British India" the P. castanea of Kafir- 
istan, Yassin, Chitral, and Swat, which is very little known, 
is. kept distinct, and I followed this in my own book on Indian 
game-birds ; but it really seems rather absurd to keep it separate, 
its only distinction being the great exaggeration of the chestnut 
round the neck and along the flanks. 

The hens show very much less difference, though the 
Nepalese specimens run to a good deal of chestnut in the tail ; 
there is nothing about their brown variegated plumage to attract 
attention, except the very pointed shape of the feathers all over, 
which is common to both sexes of the koklass, as well as the 
pointed tail. The hens have a very short blunt crest, and are not 
spurred like the cocks, which also have longer legs. 

Another noticeable and characteristic point about koklass 
is that they have no bare skin about the face like most 
pheasants, and that their wings are unusually long and pointed 
for pheasants, more like a dove's, in fact. Connected with this 
is the great speed in flight, which exceeds that of any of our other 


^^ ? 


i^\--> r 


' '" ' '* /■ 





= . CL 



The cocks weigh from about two to nearly three pounds, the 
hens up to two, the Nepal race being smaller than the typical 
one. The propensity of naturalists for species-niggling forces one 
to waste a good deal of space in describing variations ; coming 
to more practical points, the koklass is generally reckoned the 
best bird both for shooting and for eating of all its tribe in 
India; indeed, Hume says that he "would rather have a good 
day after koklass in the middle of November, in some little 
wooded saucer-like valley or depression at 7,000 or 8,000 feet in 
the Himalayas, where two or three coveys have been marked 
by one's shikaris, than after any other bird in any other 
place." Besides such places as are here indicated, koklass, 
he says, also especially affect " some place in a gorge where 
a horizontal plateau is thrown out inside the gorge." The birds 
keep much to the same place, though moving up and down during 
the day, and should be worked with well-trained dogs and several 

The birds keep to the wooded parts of the hills, and range up 
as far as these extend, but do not go lower than about 3,000 feet, 
preferring the lower to the higher elevations, and liking sloping 
ground and ravines, especially when the trees are oaks. They are 
found singly and in pairs as well as in coveys, the last being 
family parties ; the pairs are generally to be found near each 

In places where there is little underbrush, they will run before 
rising, but otherwise get on the wing, though not till closely 
approached and forced to rise. Their very rapid flight down hill 
calls for good shooting ; dogs will often put them up into trees, 
but when disturbed by man they will fly far and pitch on the 
ground, where they sometimes roost, though their general habit 
is to roost in trees. 

They sometimes croak or chuckle when rising, w'hence no 
doubt the name of Koak in Kulu ; in Kashmir they are called 
Plas. The Koklass or Pokras note, preceded by a kok kok, is the 
crow, and in dark shady woods in the interior they will answer 
any loud noise with it, though it is usually a morning and even- 
ing call. 

They may be found scratching for insects in rhododendron 


covert, and also eat moss, seeds, and flowers, and especially buds 
and leaves, but not grain ; they are not easy subjects for cap- 
tivity, and are seldom kept, whence no doubt it comes that there 
is, apparently, no description of the cock's display extant, They 
do not breed lower than 5,000 feet, but may do so at twice 
that elevation, laying, with practically no preparation, on the 
ground under a rock or root, or in cover, buff eggs which fall 
into two types, the finely and uniformly speckled or the boldly 
blotched, the markings in both cases being reddish-brown ; 
the eggs also vary much in size, but average about two inches 
long. Some are much like those of our British black-game. 
Nine is the usual number, and May the usual laying month. 
Both cock and hen keep with the brood, and the young cocks 
get their colour in the first season, the young being well grown 
by September. 

Cheer Pheasant. 

*Catreus wallichi. Cheer, Hindustani, 

The Cheer Pheasant, although his colours have none of that 
brilliancy which one associates witli pheasants, especially those 
with the typical long pointed tail which he exhibits in perfec- 
tion, having this appendage sometimes two feet long, is never- 
theless a very recognizable bird, not only among our Indian 
game-birds, but anywhere, for he is the only pheasant known 
which combines a long pointed tail with a crest also long and 
pointed ; and the female, though shorter in both tail and crest, 
yet has them enough developed to be recognizable. 

Although there is plenty of difference in detail between the 
cock and hen Cheer Pheasants, their general appearance is far 
more alike than that of the two sexes of pheasants in general, both 
showing black, grey, white, buff, and brown in their plumage ; the 
most noticeable differences are at the two ends, the cock having a 
plain dirty-white neck below his drab cap, while the hen, with 
the same head colouring, has the neck below the throat more 
black than white, though the colours are mixed ; her tail, also, 

* PJiasianus on plate. 


though exhibiting the same colours as the male's, is not so 
distinctly marked, the cock's tail being boldly banded with black- 
and-tan on a bright buff ground, and forming a very noticeable 
feature in his appearance. Cock Cheer are much larger than 
hens, weighing about three pounds and often more, while the 
hens weigh two to two and a half; they look about as big as our 
cock pheasants at home, and this is the only one of our common 
hill pheasants, rightly so-called or not, which will strike anyone 
as closely like the home bird, in spite of its dull colour. 

Its note, however, is, like its plumage, very unlike the 
common pheasant's, being a sort of song, rendered by Wilson 
as " chii'-a-pir, chir-a-pir, chir chir, chirwa, chinva" ; but the 
tune varies, and there is a good deal of it to be heard, for 
hens crow as well as cocks, and in dull weather at any time 
in the day, though the usual calling-time is daybreak and dusk. 

The cocks have spurs, and presumably they fight, for they 
are excessively spiteful in their demeanour to people when in 
captivity — more so, I think, than any other species ; and they 
have considerable power in their strong bills, which they use 
for grubbing up roots, which are their favourite food, though they 
also partake of the other usual articles of pheasant diet, with 
the exception of herbage, for which they do not care. 

Although distributed all along the Himalayas — to which 
range it is confined — and a common bird, the cheer is not to be 
found everywhere, its requirements being somewhat special. 
Although, like our pheasants generally, it ascends the hills in hot 
weather and descends in winter, it does not go above 10,000 feet 
or come down below 4,000, nor go outside the wooded regions. 
Even here Cheer are local, and the special grounds for them are, 
according to Hume, " the Dangs or precipitous places, so 
common in many parts of the interior ; not vast bare cliffs, 
but a whole congeries of little cliffs one above the other, each 
perhaps from fifteen to thirty feet high, broken up by ledges, 
on which a man could barely walk, but thickly set with grass and 
bushes, and out of which grow up stunted trees, and from which 
hang down curious skeins of grey roots and mighty garlands of 
creepers." By waiting at the foot of such a place good shots may 
be got as the birds are driven down from above, but they come 


down extremely fast, apparently closing their wings and steering 
by their tails; while if hit and not killed they will run for miles 
at times. In thin tree-growth on the hillside they are hard to 
get unless bayed by dogs, at which, iu out-of-the-way places, says 
Hume, they will chuckle or crow, with erected feathers, from the 
bough they have taken to, till they can be potted. Possibly this 
antipathy to dogs, like their fearless spitefulness toman when con- 
fined, indicates that they assist each other agamst vermin, for they 
are most companionable birds, except in the breeding-season, 
associating in coveys of up to fifteen in number, and these lots 
remaining about the same favourite place from one year's end 
to another, even if some' are shot. They are great runners and 
skulkers when the grass is long and gives them a chance, and do 
not fly far at a time. In fact, they are essentially ground-birds, 
and seldom even roost on trees, but •' jug " like partridges on the 

Cheer generally breed between 4,000 and 8,000 feet, prefer- 
ably in May and at the foot of one of their favourite " Dangs" 
scratching a slight hole and laying small eggs for their size, 
not larger than a common fowl's, and dirty-white or pale- 
greyish, with a few rusty spots in most cases. The cock 
as well as the hen looks after the brood. The native name 
expressing the characteristic note is the most widely used, but in 
the hills north of Mussoorie is replaced by Bunchil or Herril, 
while in Chamba and Kullu Chaiiian is this bird's title. 

Stone's Pheasant. 

PJtasicaiHs elegans. 

Stone's pheasant is one of the numerous subspecies of our 
common European pheasant (P. coJchicus), and the hen is not 
noticeably distinct from the female of that bird ; the cock also 
is likely to be considered the same on a casual view, but it really 
rather approaches the Chinese ring-necked race (P. torquatiis), 
having the same lavender back and patches on the wings. There 
is, however, no white ring round the neck, and the breast is not 
coppery-gold as in the common pheasant and ring-neck, but dark 


green. Thus a broad band of richly glossed dark colour runs 
right down the under-parts, completely separating the brassy- 
chestnut of the flanks. From Mrs. Hume's pheasant, the only one 
similar in form found with us, the present bird is distinguished 
at once by not having the white bars on the wing. 

Stone's pheasant is found at an elevation of about 5,000 feet 
in the Northern Shan States, as well as at Momien in Yunnan, 
and in Szechuen. Its habits present nothing worthy of special 
mention ; in Yunnan it was found frequenting grassy hills ; and 
it may be remarked that the pheasants of this type naturally 
affect grass, reeds, and scrub-jungle, not high forest. 

The Chinese ring-neck, which, subject to local variations, 
ranges from Kobdo to Canton, is the best all-round sporting bird 
in the world ; it is now thoroughly mixed up with the original 
pheasant brought by the ancients into Europe from Asia Minor, 
and most English pheasants show traces of intermixture with it. 
It has been established also in places so wide apart as Oregon, 
New Zealand, Samoa, and St. Helena, and is often imported alive 
into Calcutta, where I have known an unmated hen lay and try 
to hatch her eggs. Such an adaptable bird is well worthy of 
introduction almost anywhere, and might be tried in the Ceylon 
hills and in the Nilgiris. 

Mrs. Hume's Pheasant. 

Calophasis humia. Loe-nin-koi, Manipur. 

Anyone coming across this pheasant is likely at once to notice 
its resemblance to our familiar species at home, to which, indeed, 
it is nearly allied, though not nearly so closely as is Stone's 
pheasant. It may be distinguished from that bird by the two 
white bars on the wings and by the white edgings to the 
feathers of the lower back, which in some specimens conceal the 
dark bases, so that these would show a conspicuous white patch 
in that region which would be very noticeable w'hen the bird 
was on the wing. 

Such white-backed specimens are to be found in the Ruby 
Mines district in Burma, and some writers consider them as a 


distinguishable species, named Calophasis hurmaniais. The 
typical form with the lower back having a variegated colouring 
of steel-blue with white feather-borders is the Manipur bird, 
and it is this that Hume discovered and named after his wife — 
a way of commemorating oneself (by giving the lady's married 
surname instead of her Christian name), which is, unfortunately, 
not unique in the annals of descriptive ornithology. This was 
in 1881, and Hume could only get two specimens, both of them 
males ; but though few have since come to hand, the female is 
now known, and the Shan States, as well as Burma, have been 
added to the range of the species. 

The hen, in her brown mottled plumage, has nothing dis- 
tinctive about her appearance but the chestnut white-tipped 
outer tail-feathers, and fortunately these are just what would 
be conspicuous in flight ; her tail is shorter than that of an 
English hen pheasant, though the cock's is quite up to the usual 
cock-pheasant's standard of length, but grey in ground colour 
instead of the olive-brown seen in the home cock-pheasant's tail. 

In Manipur these birds are found inhabiting hill-forests, and 
range from 2,500 to 8,000 feet ; they extend, according to Hume, 
" right through the Kamhow territory into Eastern Looshai, 
and North-west Independent Burma." 

The Burmese and Shan States race, which was described by 
Oates as distinct in 1898, seems to be similar in habits, also 
frequenting wooded hills. Although I was the first to draw 
attention to the distinction between the two races, I did not, 
and do not now, consider them as distinct species, the characters 
being liable to variation; and I have always thought that the 
describing of a new species is an act requiring justification, not 
one to be proud of. 

As an example of the futility of species-splitting, I may men- 
tion that two male specimens of this pheasant in the Indian 
Museum, obtained respectively by Lieutenant H. H. Turner in 
the Chin Hills, and by Lieutenant H. Wood in Upper Burma, 
agreed with the Manipur form in having the rump blue with 
narrow white edgings. As Hume's birds were trapped, and few 
have seen the species wild. Lieutenant Turner's notes are worth 
quoting ; they appeared in the Journal of the Asiatic Society for 


1900. He says : "I had left my camp, which was pitched about 
six miles from Fort White, on the evening of March 6 . . . 
and was returning along the road (the Fort White — Kalemyo 
road), when glancing down the khud I saw something grey dis- 
appearing in the long grass just below me. I immediately started 
to go after it, when I saw what appeared to me a light blue 
streak just disappearing. I immediately fired, but it was with 
faint hopes that I walked up to the spot, as not only did I think 
the bird had disappeared before I shot, but I had just at the 
moment of shooting slipped. I was, therefore, very much 
delighted when I saw the blue streak tumbling down the hhud 
below me. I immediately went after him and secured him ; 
as I was descending the original grey bird, which was evidently 
the female, got up and flew a short distance. I walked her up, 
and my dog again put her up ; unfortunately, owing to the thick 
jungle, I was unable to get a shot. Walking on, however, I 
put up another, whether a cock or hen I could not say, as it was 
already dusk. I fired, but the bird flew away, and although I 
believe it dropped, I could not find it. These birds, when I saw 
them, were feeding among the dry leaves which littered the 

" The next evening I tried the upper side of the road and put 
up several (four at least) of these same birds out of some long 
grass on a steep hillside. I only managed to get one long shot, 
which was not successful. I again tried the next morning, 
and was successful in bagging another ; my dog put it up on 
our right, and flying very low through the bushes it crossed just 
in front of me. . . . The hill on which I obtained these 
specimens was between 4,000 and 5,000 feet high." 

Lady Amherst's Pheasant. 

Chrysolophus avihersticB. Seng-ky, Chinese. 

The striking contrast of satiny-green and white in the cock 
Amherst pheasant's plumage would be quite sufficient for identi- 
fication even without its structural peculiarities of wig or frill 
of long rounded feathers, and extravagant length of tail which 


may reach over a yard, although the bird himself is barely as 
big as a hen common pheasant. The frill and long centre tail- 
feathers are both white marked with black, and are set off by 
the narrow red crest, red border to the straw-yellow rump, and 
red tips to the long tail-coverts ; the rest of the plumage is mostly 
green, but white below the breast. When displaying, the cock 
expands his tail and frill sideways, and always attracts attention 
at the Zoo when thus showing off; in fact, many people must 
know this bird by sight, although it is not yet, after many years' 
breeding in captivity, anything like so well known as its only 
near relative, the gold pheasant {Chrysoloplms pictus). 

The Amherst hen, though a plain-looking brown bird without 
trimmings, is strikingly marked off from our other hen pheasants 
by the bold cross barring of her upper plumage and neck ; she 
has also chestnut eyebrows and a bare livid patch round the eye. 
Yearling cocks may be distinguished by the whitish tint of their 
napes and centre tail-feathers, and green gloss on the crown. 
Like its ally, the gold pheasant, this is a Chinese bird, but ranges 
to Tibet and reaches our territory also, though this has only 
been known in recent years. In his " Manual of the Game Birds 
of India," vol. ii, published in 1809, Gates mentions that he iiad 
seen a skin of a bird of this species, a cock, which had been 
shot, either in the Myitkyina or in the Bhamo district, on the 
frontier between Burma and China, by one of the officers 
engaged in the settlement of the frontier in question. Then, 
in 1905, Mr. E. Comber recorded in the Journal of the Bombay 
Natural History Society that the Society had " lately received 
the skin of an adult male specimen in full plumage of Lady 
Amherst's pheasant from Lieutenant W. W. Yon Someran, 
who shot it at a height of about 9,000 feet near Sadon in the 
Myitkyina district of Upper Burma." The donor had stated 
about the habits of the birds that they lived at elevations of 
8,000 feet or over, and he had never seen a bird below this ; 
and that they appeared to be common over the frontier on the 
hills of the Chinese side. 

The habits of the bird in China are thus described by 
Pere David, " Lady Amherst's pheasant lives, the whole year 
round, in the highest jungle-covered hills of Western Szechuen, 


Yunnan, Kouycheou, and the highest hills of Eastern Tibet. 
It especially frequents the clumps of wild bamboos which 
grow at an altitude of 2,000 to 3,000 metres, and the shoots 
of these are its favourite food ; indeed, it is from this that 

its Chinese name of Seng-ky (shoot-fowl) is derived 

In the wild state it shows a very jealous disposition and will not 
allow the golden pheasant, its only possible rival, to approach 
the locality in which it resides ; and so one never meets those 
two brilliantly coloured pheasants on the same hill or in the 
same valley." Another clerical authority, quoted by Hume, 
says that Amherst pheasants, when they find springes baited with 
grain laid for tlieiu, are said by the Chinese to try to sweep the 
corn away with their huge tails so as to feed safely on it. This 
sounds rather a tall statement, as Hume evidently thought, but 
it is quite possible that the Amherst cock, one of the most 
irritable birds in a very peppery family, may, in his anger at 
being kept from coveted food by an obstruction which he fears, 
may play round the snare with expanded sweeping tail as he would 
round a hen ; for this species, like probably most birds, assumes 
more or less the so-called courting attitude under strong euiotion 
such as anger. Of course any native onlooker at this performance, 
if it occurs, would naturally credit the bird with an intelligent 
motive. If some corn were actually swept away in this manner, 
it would indeed be probable that the bird would learn to act 
intelligently in the asserted direction. The birds, as above 
remarked, breed freely in captivity, and their eggs are buff. 

Indian Crimson Tragopan. 

Geriornis satyra. Munal, Hindustani. 

The wonderfully rich plumage of the cock crimson tragopan, 
whose red under-parts spotted with white, and the similar speck- 
ling on his marbled brown back, make him look like a glorified 
guinea-fowl, is a certain and striking distinction of his species ; 
the hen is a brown bird, the plumage on close inspection being 
seen to be a grizzly pepper and ginger mixture, with more of 
the dark colour above and more of the buff below, but without 


definite markings of any size ; she is quite easy to recognize, in 
spite of her sonihre colour and absence of any crest or bare skin 
round the eye. Young cocks show some red on the neck in their 
first year, but do not come into colour till the next. The cock 
is horned, crested, and dewlapped, as is always the case with 
tragopans ; but the crest lies flat and the light blue fleshy horns 
are generally concealed in it, while the dewlap is hardly visible 
as a rule, just showing a fold of the richest blue skin on the bare 
throat. The blue skin of the face is concealed by scanty black 
feathering; and in having the face thus feathered this species is 
unique among tragopans. Although, like our other well-known 
tragopan, this species is often called argus, it is no more an argus 
pheasant than it is a peacock ; indeed, it can hardly be called 
a pheasant at all, being, like the monal, a member of a separate 
group in the family, and quite as near the partridges as the 
pheasants proper. The tail is somewhat hen-like, not long, and 
slightly folded, and the general appearance is bulky and fowl- 
like, though the legs and toes are rather long and slender, and 
the bill particularly small. The bird is a large one, weighing 
about four pounds in the case of cocks ; the hens are noticeably 
smaller and do not weigh nearly three pounds. 

The crimson tragopan is confined to the Eastern Himalayas, 
seldom straying west of the Alaknanda Valley in Garhwal, in 
which state and in Kumaun it is known as Lungi ; it is well 
known as far east as Bhutan, where its names are Omo and 
Bap, the Lepcha name in Sikkim being Tarr liyak. It used to 
be common near Darjeeling. 

Like tragopans generally, it is a true forest bird and seldom 
seen, for it does not come out on to the grass slopes above the 
forest as the monal so frequently does ; though, like that species, 
it shifts its ground according to season, keeping near the limits 
of woodland in summer, and descending in winter as low as 
6,000 feet. It likes thick cover, and is especially fond of 
that afforded by ringal, especially where water is at hand. It is 
more of a tree-bird than pheasants generally, not only taking 
refuge in trees from enemies and roosting on them at night, 
but judging from the habits of captured specimens, keeping a 
good deal in them at all times, and no doubt feeding on the 


buds, berries, and leaves, since leaves, especially of aromatic 
kinds, and wild fruit, form a portion of the food, as well as 
bamboo-shoots, insects, and bulbs ; though in confinement it 
will eat grain, it does not seem to seek it in a wild state. 

Although eggs have been taken in Kumaun in May, not 
much is on record about the breeding of this bird in the wild 
state, no doubt because people naturally expect such birds to 
nest on the ground, whereas evidence obtained from birds kept 
in captivity shows that they are really tree-breeders. Mr. St. 
Quintin, who has paid particular attention to tragopans and 
kept three out of the five known species, finds they require 
elevated nesting-sites, such as old wood pigeons' nests and plat- 
forms put up in trees, which they line with a few twigs. A hen 
of this very species even made a scanty nest of her own with 
spruce twigs and branches, so that in looking for tragopans' 
nests one's motto evidently ought to be "Excelsior." The eggs 
are larger than ordinary Indian fowls' eggs, and not unlike them 
except for a few pale dull markings of a lilac tint. They take 
twenty-nine days to hatch. 

The chicks are uniform reddish-brown above, not striped, 
and have the wing-feathers showing when hatched ; they perch 
at once, and can fly in a few days. This looks as if they might 
spend some of their early life aloft ; perhaps the hen feeds them, 
as the cock does her when courting. This same courtship of 
the cock is very curious ; he has two quite distinct displays, an 
unusual trait in any bird. The most commonly seen is a side- 
way one, the bird flattening himself out sideways, as it were, by 
expanding the feathers of one side of the body above and below, 
much as the common pheasant does. In this way the white spots 
become as conspicuous as possible, but there is no change in 
the face. In the full display, which is very rarely seen, the 
bird squats down on his heels with head erect and plumage 
puffed out, flaps his wings with a convulsive movement, showing 
off the intense red on the pinion-joints, and makes a noise like 
a motor-car starting. At the same time, with jerks of the head, 
the dewlap is let down and expands, not vertically like a turkey's, 
but horizontally, forming a bib as large as a lady's palm, of the 
most intense blue in the middle, and pure azure at the sides. 


which are marked with large oval scarlet spots. The horns 
should be also displayed at this time, but I hardly saw them when 
I witnessed the display myself. This is a frontal display, but 
the hen never seems to be anywhere where she is wanted at the 
time. There appears to be usually but one hen with a cock, and 
he seems more gentle with her than typical pheasants. Her 
alarm note is much like the quack of a duck ; the cock is usually 
silent, but in the pairing season calls with a bleat like a young 
lamb, and also, but for only two or three days in each season, 
according to Mr. Barnby Smitb, who has carefully studied this 
species in confinement, gives out a weird, far-reaching, moaning 
call like oo-ah, oo-ah, apparently as a challenge. Cocks can be 
called up by imitating them, but are even then very wary and 
hard to shoot ; in fact, it is very difficult to get a sight of 
tragopans at any time, and the peculiarities of their display 
have been made out from captive birds. As a general rule, 
unless they can be hustled out of the ringal cover by dogs and 
made to rise, they afford very little sport, for when seen in the 
open, as they rarely are, they break away on foot if possible and 
give only a snap-shot. They are often not better eating than 
ordinary fowls, so that on the whole, though most fascinating 
to the naturalist, they do not figure prominently on the game 

Tcmminck's Tragopan. 

Tragopan temmincki. Oiia-oua-ky, Chinese. 

Temminck's tragopan, as may be judged from its alternative 
name of Chinese crimson tragopan, is a bird whose most con- 
spicuous colour is red, as in our eastern Indian species ; but the 
Chinese bird is a perfectly distinct species, not a mere local race, 
although the two are undoubtedly far nearer to each other than 
either is to any of the few other tragopans known. 

The characteristic points of the Chinese bird are, first, the 
bareness of the face, which permits the bright blue colour of 
the skin to appear, and makes the bird in life conspicuously 
different from the Indian bird with its black-feathered counten- 
ance ; and secondly, the fact that the plumage is spotted, not 


with white, but with grey, and that these light spots have not 
the black borders which so throw up the pearl spangling of the 
crimson tragopan of India. The spots are also larger in 
Temminck's tragopan, especially on the under-surface, where 
as much grey shows as red, the feathers being practically grey 
with broad red borders. 

The bib, as expanded during courtship, is of apparently the 
same colour in both tragopans, being blue with a row of scarlet 
patches down each side ; at least that is what I have noted, 
having seen each species display. 

I can give no criterion for distinguishing the hen of this 
bird from that of the Indian crimson tragopan ; but as no two 
tragopans have been found living together in our borders as 
yet, the problem of separating these is not likely to arise. 

As it occurs on the Mishmi Hills, the Chinese crimson 
tragopan was long suspected to be a likely resident in our 
borders, and this suspicion became certainty in 1903, when Mr. 
E. C. S. Baker reported to the Bombay Natural History Society 
on two specimens which had been "shot by Mr. W. Scott, 
Civil Officer of the Sadon Hill Tracts, on the Panseng Pass at a 
height of 9,000 feet. Mr. Scott in a forwarding letter described 
the bird's call as "one single, high note, not unlike a cat's 

It is the south-western and central parts of China that are 
the best known home of this species, but it appears to be, 
according to Mr. Baker, very common above 8,000 feet on the 
Mishmi, Dafla, and Abu Hills ; in Sadya it is found on the high 
ranges within only a dozen miles of the frontier police posts. 

Pere David, writing of its habits in China, says it is not 
common anywhere ; it lives alone on bush-covered hills and rarely 
comes out of its cover, where it feeds on seeds, fruits, and leaves. 
He says its very sonorous cry can be represented by the 
syllable oiia twice repeated, whence one of its Chinese names ; 
the syllable ky means fowl, as in the two other names, Ko 
or Kiao-ky (horned fowl) or Sin-tsiou-ky (starred fowl). He 
says it is a much esteemed game bird, all the more so because 
it is so scarce and can only be captured by a trap or springe. 

In captivity in Europe it is as well known as the Indian 


species, or at any rate used to be, but of late j'ears I have only 
seen the Indian crimson bird at the Zoo, though the only other 
Chinese tragopan known, Cabot's or the buff-breasted {T. cahoti), 
has been exhibited of late and been not uncommon in the bird 
trade. In captivity the Temminck's tragopan shows the same 
tendency to nest high up as the Indian crimson species ; the 
eggs are cream or buff colour closely speckled with brown. 

Western Tragopan. 

Tragopan melanocephalus. Jewar, Garhwal. 

The " Simla argus," as this tragopan is sometimes called, 
the crimson bird being the " Sikkim argus" — both wrongly, for 
as I said before, they are not at all like argus pheasants — is suffi- 
ciently like its Eastern relative to be recognized as a close kins- 
man at once ; there are the same white spots, the same general 
size and form, and the same red on the neck and pinions, while 
the ground-colour of the back is of a similar mottled brown. 
But the under-parts are very different, being nearly all black in 
ground-colour, thus enhancing the guinea-fowl effect, while the 
face is quite bare and bright-red, although the bib is said to show 
both red and blue, and is probably similar, when fully expanded, 
to that of the better-known species. 

The hen is more of a true pepper-and-salt grizzle, with less 
rufous in the tint, and on the under-parts is distinctly spotted 
with white ; her hues are altogether colder than those of the 
crimson bird's female, as one would expect from the sparseness 
of the red colouring in her mate, which would really be better 
called the black tragopan, from his dominant colour. 

The young cock, as in the other species, first shows his 
colour on the neck ; he is said not to come into full colour 
till the third year. This species runs a little larger than the 
crimson bird ; it is found from the ridge between the Kaltor 
and Billing rivers in native Garhwal, on the east, all along the 
hills as far as Hazara, being known in the north-west as Sing- 
monal. As the crimson tragopan is also called Monal in Nepal, 
it seems that natives group the great pheasant-partridges, as one 


may call these birds, and the true monals together. In Kullu, 
Mandi, and Suket there are different names for the sexes, the 
cock being Jigurana and the hen Budal ; the Chamba name is 
Falgnr, and that used in Bashahr is Jaghi. 

Unlike so many representative species, the two tragopans do 
not range up to each others' boundaries, for, says Hume, from 
the ridge in Garhwal above-mentioned, "for some four days' 
march you meet with neither species. In this interval there 
are three high ranges to cross that divide the Bhilling Rand 
Valley from that of the Bangar Rand, this latter from the 
Mandagni Valley, and this latter again from that of the 
Alaknanda." How it is the birds have left this considerable bit 
of neutral ground untenanted appears never to have been 
explained, and the problem would be well worth solving. 

Like the crimson tragopan this species is essentially a wood- 
lander ; it feeds chiefly on leaves, especially of box, oak, ringal, 
and a privet-like shrub ; it also likes berries, especially that of 
the Dekha of Kullu, and takes insects, acorns, and grubs as well, 
while in captivity it eats grain. Though shifting its ground more 
or less according to season, and ascending in the spring to near 
the forest limit, it often remains in forests with plenty of snow 
on the ground, being able to find its food in the trees. It is a 
shy bird, avoiding human habitations, and seldom seen even by 
natives, while, though it becomes tame very quickly in captivity, 
it seems rarely to be exported, so that its intimate habits and 
display are apparently unknown. The wild alarm note is a 
repeated bleat like a lamb's or kid's, and the spring call is a loud 
version of the same ; no doubt there are really two notes as in 
the crimson tragopan. Where not disturbed, these birds may 
be seen at times feeding in open patches in the forests along with 
monal, and are easily shot when treed by dogs ; but persecution 
makes them very wary, and at the best of times a pot-shot on 
the ground or in a tree is all that can be got. They hide them- 
selves with great skill, and when " treed " watch the sportsman 
and shoot off as soon as discovered before proper aim can be 
taken. They generally keep in straggling parties, and are often 
found alone. 

The eggs have rarely been taken, owing probably to the 


assumption that birds of this kind must be ground-breeders. 
Those that have been taken are dull freckled buff; six were in 
the clutch, and May was the month in which they were taken, 
at the western limit of the bird's range in Hazara. They were 
on the ground, in a spot where a landslip had carried away a bit 
of pine-forest, covered with small second growth of bushes and 
shrubs ; the nest was a rough structure of grass and sticks. No 
doubt if old pigeons' and squirrels' nests are investigated in 
this tragopan's haunts, the eggs will be more easily found. 

Grcy-brcastcd or Blyth's Tragopan. 

Tragopan blythi. Sansaria, Assamese. 

The grey-breasted tragopan is distinguished at once from 
our other species by the spotless smoke-grey of the under-parts, 
although the upper plumage is mottled much as in our other 
species, and the neck is of the same red ; the fleshy horns are 
also of the usual blue, but the face-skin is bright rich yellow, 
bordered with green where it ends on the throat. Although I 
have seen the bird alive, I have never witnessed its display, so 
cannot give the colour of the bib, which of course can only be 
properly seen in the live bird. 

Although rather smaller the hen is very similar to that of 
the crimson tragopan, but the under plumage is less rich in 
tint, and there is more of the black peppering in the grizzled 
brown of the upper plumage. 

Little is known of this beautiful bird, although it was 
described by Jerdon as long ago as 1869 ; it is best known from 
the Naga Hills, though it also ranges into Manipur and Cachar, 
and has been reported from the Daphla Hills also. The Nagas, 
who know it by the name of gnu, are in the habit of catching 
it " by laying a line of snares across a ravine which they are 
known to frequent, and then, with a large circle of beaters, 
driving the birds down to them. They go as quietly as possible, 
so as not to frighten the birds sufficiently to make them take 
flight, as if not much alarmed they prefer running." This bird's 
habits are, in fact, evidently much the same as those of other 


tragopans, the group being as much ahke in their ways as they 
are in their general appearance, although the species are so well 
characterized and distinct. The cry is evidently some sort of a 
bleat as in the other species, as it is said to be expressed in the 
syllable " aA." 

The habitat of the bird is high jungle, and it does not 
seem to range lower than 5,000 feet, while going up to the 
tops of its native hills. The breeding season is said to be in 
April, and three or four eggs to form the full clutch ; these 
eggs appear to be of the buff, brown-spotted type, normal 
in the group. 

In Cachar Mr. E. G. S. Baker once watched, in April, a pair, 
of which the male was " busy courting the hen who refused all 
advances. They behaved exactly like domestic fowls, and the 
cock kept running round the female with trailing wing." This, 
however, judging from what has been seen of other better-known 
tragopans, would only be the simpler and commoner form of 
display, so that the full show posture evidently remains to be 

One of the first specimens known was sent home alive to the 
Zoo, and they have had several others since ; in fact, the bird 
seems to have become better known in captivity than in its 
wild state. 


Lophophorus refulgens. Munal, Hindustani. 

An American naturalist has well said that this gorgeous bird 
reminds one of a humming-bird enlarged to the size of a fowl ; 
and really this does give one some idea of the remarkable 
appearance of this glory of our hills, for only among the 
humming-birds do we find such brilliant green and copper as 
clothe the cock monaul's head and neck, while the purple and 
blue of his back and wings are only second in brilliancy to the 
tints further forward. As the bird flies off, however, two more 
hues are particularly striking, the snow-white patch in the middle 
of the back, completely hidden in repose by the wings, and the 
rich chestnut of the short broad partridge-like tail. In fact, in 


spite of the brilliant colours and peacock-like crest of the male, 
which have given him the name of Nil-mor and Jungli-mor in 
Kashmir, there is something very partridge-like about the bird, 
and to call him the Impeyan PJieasant, as is often done, is rather 
an abuse of terms, for, although a member of the pheasant 
family, he is no more a pheasant than he is a jungle fowl or a 
peacock, but, with his few relatives, stands alone as a type. 

The hen, in her mottled-brown plumage, is just like a giant 
partridge ; her only distinctive marks are the bare blue eye- 
patch she shares with the cock, and the pure white of the 
throat. Yearling cocks may be at once picked out on the wing 
by the patch of plain buff which foreshadows the snow-white 
escutcheon they will bear when in full plumage, which is not till 
next year, and even second-year birds have the seventh quill 
brown. The monaul is a heavy, bulky bird, weighing about 
four and a half pounds in the case of the cock, the hen being 
about half a pound less. It carries a great amount of breast- 
meat, and tastes much like a turkey, at any rate during autumn 
and winter ; the thigh sinews run to bone, and need drawing like 
a turkey's. The monaul is confined to the Himalayas, and is 
seldom found lower than .5,000 feet even in winter, while 
in summer it ranges up to the forest limit and even above it, 
some old males climbing nearly to the snow-line. However, it is, 
generally speaking, a forest bird, and so usually roosts in trees at 
night, besides often alighting on them in the day-time when 

It is a strong-flying wary bird, more of a flyer than a runner, 
and quite ready to cross a wide valley on the wing when sur- 
prised. Its call, which is somewhat like that of the peewit 
at home, but a whistled instead of a mewing call, is a source 
of annoyance to sportsmen after big game in the heights, for of 
course the beasts attend to the warning. Both cock and hen 
call similarly, and the note is quite unlike that of any other of 
our game-birds. 

Monaul are, like the family generally, mixed feeders, but they 
specialize on underground food — roots and grubs — and hoe these 
up with their powerful bills : they rarely scratch like the phea- 
sants and fowls, being able to do the work of unearthing food 


with the bill alone as a rule. In the wild state they do not care 
for corn, but will eat it in captivity, especially wheat ; but any- 
one keeping them should always supply chopped roots as well. 

They are not very sociable, and old males are often found 
alone ; their spurs are short, and one does not hear about their 
fighting m a wild state, though in captivity a strong male will 
hunt a weaker one to death, and I have known a vicious 
youngster to completely scalp a hen. But, on the whole, they are 
gentle, quiet birds compared with the excitable pheasants. The 
display of the cock is curious — he begins by bending down 
his head and expanding the turquoise eye-patch ; then he sets 
out his wings without fully expanding them, and raises and 
spreads his tail, thus showing all his top-colour at once. When 
thus at full show he parades with mincing gait round the hen, 
now' and then hopping in a way strangely out of place for so 
heavy and dignified a bird. He often has but one mate, but 
in localities where the species is common several may fall to his 
lot. In fact, Wilson, the " Mountaineer " so well known in 
Indian sporting literature for his unrivalled accounts of our 
Indian hill game-birds, found that by rigidly preserving hens he 
could market male skins of this species and the western tragopan 
by hundreds yearly without decreasing the stock, so that 
polygamy is quite a workable arrangement for the species, 
although Mr. St. Quintin, who has bred it in confinement in 
England, finds that the cock looks after and broods the chicks as 
well as the hen. But this may have been due to isolation ; the 
general impression in India is that the hen only tends the brood. 

Owing to the value of its jewelled plumage the bird has been 
liable to be much poached by natives, who capture it with nooses 
and dead-falls, all of which devices ought to be strictly forbidden, 
as they are fatal to hens as well as cocks. To the legitimate 
exploitation of the males no reasonable person should object, but 
these game-birds need careful protection, and if the natives' 
poaching propensities could be directed to the destruction of the 
numerous vermin of India a great point would be gained. In 
this connection it should be mentioned that the hawk-eagle is an 
inveterate foe of this bird and of tragopans, while no doubt the 
marten accounts for a good many. 


Monauls breed iu late spring, the hen making a "scrape" 
under a root or rock, and laying seldom more than five eggs ; 
they can be first found in May, and may easily be mistaken for 
those of a turkey, but are slightly larger than the eggs laid by 
Indian turkeys at any rate. 

The native name Munal, with the feminine Munali, is especi- 
ally used in the Central Himalayas ; in Kulu the male is distin- 
guished as Nil and the female as Karari ; in Kashmir the sex- 
appellations are Lont for the cock and Hami for the hen ; Bat- 
nal and liatkap are used in the North-west Himalayas, while the 
Lepchas and Bhutias call the bird Fo-dong and Cham-dong 
respectively, and Dafia is the name in Nepal, recalling the term 
Datiya in Kumaun and Garhwal. 

There is a certain tendency to variation in the plumage of the 
male monaul, and in some cases this has led to some unsatisfac- 
tory species being named ; a form with blue instead of copper- 
red on the neck has been called Lopliophorus mantoiii, and in 
several books a variety is called the Bronze-backed Monaul, 
and credited with being the true Lopliopliorus impeyanus, whereas 
it always used to be supposed that it was the typical form which 
was named after Impey. This variety, for I personally cannot 
swallow it as a species, and natives say it is only a casual 
variation, has only been found in Chamba, where the common 
form is well known. It is distinguished from this bird by having 
much more metallic gloss on the plumage, there being no white 
patch on the back, but purple all the way down, while the 
green of the throat spreads all over the under-parts, which are 
intense velvet-black in the typical bird. As no hens ever turn 
up, and as birds only differing in colour invariably interbreed and 
do not themselves recognize a difference of species, I really think 
naturalists have been too much in a hurry in giving specific rank 
to this freak ; for it so happens that the pheasant family are 
particularly apt to produce well-marked and natural-looking 
colour-variations, of which the black-winged peacock, also once 
ranked as a species, is a striking example.' 

' Since writing the above, I find that Mr. C. W. Beebe has published 
(Zoologica, vol. i. p. 272) his conviction that the Chauiba monaul is "unques- 
tionably a mutation, sport, or abnormal variation.'' 


Crcstlcss or Sclatcr's Monaul. 

Lopliopliorus sclateri. 

Although this fine bird has not yet occurred in Indian limits, 
it is very likely to be found to do so, since it inhabits the Mishmi 
Hill, like the Chinese crimson tragopan, now definitely estab- 
lished as an inhabitant of our Empire. If met with it is 
extremely easy to recognize, for, m spite of a general resemblance 
to the common monaul, it has two very marked points of distinc- 
tion, one at each end — the absence of the crest, combined with a 
peculiar frizzling of the scalp-plumage, and the white tip to the 
tail. The white patch on the back also extends right down 
to the root of the tail, not being separated from it by a dark 
glossy area as in the common monaul ; and this in the case of a 
captive bird, which is likely to have a broken tail and probably 
a damaged scalp as well, will no doubt prove the best distinction. 

The hen bird, since the question of crest does not come in, 
is naturally more like the hen common monaul, but even in her 
case there is a clear and easily-seen distinction ; for she also has a 
white-tipped tail, and if this mark, owing to damage, be not avail- 
able for recognition, the noticeable light area on the lower back 
will show a difference from the common monaul's female. 

The first specimen of this bird on record was seen by Jerdon 
in 1869, and, though it was in bad feather, he, with his great 
knowledge of birds, divined it was probably a novelty, and 
proposed the scientific name it now bears. The bird was then 
living at Shillong, healthy, though in damaged condition ; it 
ultimately reached the London Zoo. As only a few specimens 
have turned up since, brought down by Mishmis and Abors to 
the annual fair at Sadiya, there is hardly anything to say about 
this bird, one of the most gorgeous in existence. 

Blood Pheasant. 

Ithagenes cruentus. Chilime, Nepalese. 

In spite of his striking plumage of slate-grey, pale-green, and 
carmine, the cock of our Alpine blood pheasant looks, on the 
whole, more like a partridge, having a short tail and only 


weighing a little over the pound ; while the hen, being brown 
all over, would certainly be called a partridge by anyone who 
did not know her mate. Her bright red legs and red eye-patch, 
which she has in common with the cock, are distinctive points, 
as also is the fine pencilling of black over the brown plumage, 
which has no striking markings. 

Young cocks are said to assume a duller edition of the 
masculine plumage when half-grown ; they have no spurs, but 
their elders are most plentifully provided in that respect, and 
may have up to nine spurs on the two legs. 

The Bhutias, who call the bird So7ne or Semo, credit it 
with growing a new spur every year, but this is at least doubtful, 
and the bird is so rarely kept in captivity that opportunities for 
observation have been wanting. One pair reached the London 
Zoo a few years back, and I was struck with their essentially 
partridge-like appearance. Their importer, Mr. W. Frost, told 
me that they were spiteful with other birds, and backed each 
other up, the hen waiting on an elevated spot till the cock ran a 
bird under her, when she would spring on i't and do her share of 
the mauling. 

That the bird should be seldom kept alive is not remarkable, 
for it is not often even shot ; it is purely Himalayan — though 
very similar species occur outside our limits— and always keeps 
high up near the snows, but affects cover, not open rocky spots 
like the snow-partridge. Pine forests and mountain bamboo 
clumps are favourite haunts, and here the birds scratch for food 
like fowls, and are nearly equally omnivorous in their tastes. 
But, like most of our game-birds, they specialize somewhat in 
food ; they do not eat bulbs, and do eat pine tops and juniper 
berries, especially in winter and spring, for they remain all the 
year at high elevations. As they do not range lower than 10,000 
feet, their haunts are liable to be snowed up, but in addition to 
the food they get from the conifers, they seem to burrow in the 
snow for either subsistence or shelter ; for they have been taken 
at 12,000 feet in January. 

They perch freely at all times when alarmed, but fly little 
and generally run to cover when startled ; the alarm-note is 
"ship, ship,'" and a scattered covey is piped together by a long 


squealing call. The covey varies in number from ten to twenty 
birds, and in winter packs of up to a hundred may be found. 
Not much is really known about these birds, which seem to 
have their haunts very much to themselves. Even the eggs 
have not been taken, but these must be laid pretty early, for 
3'oung ones are about in May ; and Jerdon got the half-grown 
birds on the Singhallala spur west of Darjeeling in September, 
a locality unusually near the plains for this species. 

It maybe gathered from what has been said about its running 
habits that this bird is not of the sport-showing description; 
but, occurring as it does where other game is scarce, it is useful 
for food if one is hard up for meat. But it is an uncertain 
article of diet, for though it has been found excellent eating in 
September, after feeding on berries, leaves, and seeds, a diet of 
coniferous vegetables reduces it to a condition of rankness and 
toughness that requires a really keen appetite to overcome ; so 
that it is a bird to be left alone as long as even village fowls can 
be procured. 

Mountain Quail. 

Oplirijsia supercUiosa. 

Anyone lucky enough to start this curious little bird in 
shooting in the hills might recognize it by its tail, which is far 
bigger than in any quail-like bird, whether true quail, bush 
quail or button quail, being in fact three inches long, while the 
bird itself is little bigger than the common grey quail. 

A true quail it certainly is not ; some call it a pigmy pheasant, 
and it may be that, if the blood pheasant is fairly called a 
pheasant, for to that bird it seems to be allied. Like it, it has 
long soft plumage and red legs ; but it has no spurs, and the 
colour of the sexes, though different, does not present the 
striking contrast of the cock and hen blood pheasants. The 
cock mountain quail is grey, narrowly streaked with black along 
the edges of the feathers, and the hen brown, also variegated w^ith 
black markings, but in her case these are broader and occupy 
the centre of the feather. There is, in fact, nothing in her colour 
to attract attention, but the cock is noticeable for the rather 


striking black-and-white colouring of his head, and of the 
feathers under the tail. Both have red bills, brightest in the 
cock ; but in some apparently the legs and bill may be yellow, 
as in the first recorded specimens, which were in the Earl of 
Derby's private zoo in 1846. 

It was not certain that these came from India, but nobody 
has found the bird anywhere else ; and even there it has only 
rarely turned up, always in the hills, and generally in winter. 
Less than a dozen specimens, in fact, are on record, and all these 
have been got near Mussoorie or Naini Tal. Hume suggested 
that they may have come " from the better-wooded south- 
eastern portions of Chinese Tibet," which little-known region 
might certainly furnish novelties. But the bird does not look at 
all a wanderer ; its wings are small even for a bird of this family, 
none of which have pinions adapted for lengthened flight. The 
common grey quail is the best provided in this respect, and that 
has wings of four inches or more from the pinion to the tip — 
the usual way of measuring a bird's wing, as it can be done in a 
skin made up as usual with closed wings ; the mountain quail, 
although larger than the common quail, shows a wing of barely 
more than three-and-a-half inches measured in this way. 

It may be that the birds obtained represent some of the last 
survivors of a declining species ; such species must always be in 
existence, and may no doubt disappear without record, for 
extinction of course goes on, as it did before the advent of man 
with his much-abused destructive habits, from natural causes. 

In the Naini Tal Tarai, for instance, there exists a large 
weaver bird or baya, the Ploceus megarhijnchus of Hume, of 
which very few specimens have ever been obtained ; yet this is 
the brightest-coloured as well as the largest of the Indian bayas, 
the cock in breeding-dress being nearly all yellow, on the throat 
and belly as well as the breast and cap. This may be a declining 
form ; but against the theory of imminent extinction in the case 
of the mountain quail, and in favour of that of migration, may 
be set the dates of the latter bird's occurrence, which are almost 
all in the winter months. Thus it has occurred near Mussoorie 
in November, 1865, and close to Naini Tal in December, 1876. 
In November, 1867, however, a number appeared at Jerepani, 






and some of these were still there in June of the following year, 
but were not seen later. 

Like a partridge, this bird is found in coveys, as well as in 
pairs or alone ; it is extremely hard to put up out of the long 
grass or other low cover in which it lives, finding its food in the 
grass-seeds, and only taking a short slow flight when disturbed. 
Its presence, however, i.s often betrayed by its whistling call, 
which is quite peculiar. Being a hard bird to shoot and poor 
eating, there is not much inducement to go after it, and for the 
last thirty-eight years none have been seen or heard of either in 
India or anywhere else. 

Bamboo Partridge. 

Bamhusicola fijtchii. 

The general impression made by this bird may be judged of 
by the fact that an escaped specimen in England some years 
ago figured in a sporting paper as a hybrid between a partridge 
and a pheasant ; it is, indeed, a partridge in size, but its tail in 
length and form rather recalls the pheasant type. The plumac^e 
is sober and partridge-like, and the same in both sexes ; the 
distinctive points about it are the chestnut spots on the brown 
back, and the diamond or heart-shaped black markings on the 
belly. The legs are grey, spurred in the cock, and often in the 
hen as well. 

The bamboo partridge was first discovered by Dr. Anderson 
at Ponsee, in Yunnan ; here it frequented old rice land on 
hillsides at 3,000 feet. It is now known to inhabit Manipur, 
the Kachyen Hills, and in our territory. Upper Burma and 
the hill ranges west to Assam. This being so, it at first 
seems strange that a good-sized bird like this should have 
first been made known from outside, when it occurs even 
near Shillong, but it is a very skulking bird, and difficult to 
flush. Besides bamboo-jungle, it haunts long grass and heavy 
forest jungle ; it is strictly a hill bird keeping above 2,000 feet. 

It perches freely and roosts in trees at night ; and on 
rising in the morning will come out into open spaces. It is 


not an abundant bird, and generally found in pairs ; its call, 
heard in spring, is unmusical and loud, like che-ke heree. 
The nesting season is said to be May and June, and the 
eggs brownish-buff laid in a nest on the ground in or under 
a tuft of grass. The weight is about twelve ounces in the 
cock and a couple less in the hen ; the plumage is exceedingly 
variable in detail, but the points given above, in conjunction with 
the length of tail, which may reach five inches, make this bird 
easily distinguishable from other local partridges, especially 
the woodland species, all of which except this one have very 
short tails. 

Himalayan Snow-cock. 

Tetraogallus himalayensis. Bamchukar, Hindustani. 

The home of this great grey partridge, as big as a small 
goose, is the rocky but grassed slopes between the forests and 
the snows on the Himalayas ; its eastern limit is Kumaun, 
and it ranges on the west through Afghanistan, where it is 
called kabk-i-dara, to Central Asia. 

Seen on its native heath, or rather turf, it looks, from its 
orey colour and orange legs, large size, and rather awkward 
gait, very like a goose ; it also has other goose-like habits, 
feeding mostly on grass, though now and then scratching up 
a tasty bulb, and being eminently sociable, several old birds 
being seen together with a number of chicks ; while the sentinel 
perched on a stone ready to give warning to the pack is 
eminently reminiscent of the ways of wild geese. When on the 
wing, these birds fly well and often high, frequently crossing 
from one ridge to another, or travelling a mile at a time, and 
they are particularly conspicuous when in flight, owing to their 
pinion-quills being white except at the tips, while they keep 
up a continual whistle while flying. They habitually feed up- 
hill, walk slowly, and never run far ; in fact they are not built 
for much sprinting, being thickset, short-legged birds and very 
heavy, the cock weighing up to six and a half pounds, and 
normally about five. The hen is not nearly so large, but still 
weighs between three or four pounds, and except for having 


Cef'wrnis rnelcuwcepJialus. 

PorzancL aJwoh. 

£ax:alfactoricL sinensis. 


Ferdioc hodgsonigB. 

Pterocles aenegodus 



TetraogaUas liunMlayensis . 

A W Strutt Del 

■"Waller, Chrome I-.t^-ij Ea-Uoa Garden Londc 


no spurs, is just like the cock, both having the same chestnut- 
edged white bib and white breast, and chestnut streaks on the 
grey ground of the wings and sides. 

Snow-cocks, often somewhat absurdly called snow-pheasants, 
for they are most obvious partridges in everything except size, 
avoid cover of any sort, but they are rather partial to rocks, and 
roost on the shelves of precipices at night. They like feeding 
on spots where sheep have been folded at night earlier in the 
year, as the grazing is better in such places ; and on cold, dull, 
and wet days keep on the feed all day, though warm bright 
weather makes them sluggish and disinclined to leave their rocky 
perches except at morning and evening. They are, indeed, 
essentially birds of the cold bleak heights, and few remain to 
breed on the Indian side of the Gangetic section of the moun- 
tains, the majority here apparently crossing the snows to nest in 
Chinese Tibet, though in Kunawar they are common at all 

In September they appear between the woods and the snow, 
and as winter draws on the heavy falls drive them down to any 
open hills they may find in the forest belt. Their migration 
seems to be made at night, and in mild winters hardly any come 
down ; 7,000 feet is about the limit in any case. Once settled 
on a hill, they stay till the end of March, and each pack has 
its own location, to which it appears to return every year. 
They will feed on young sprouting corn very readily, and eat 
other herbage besides grass, but only visit isolated patches of 

Generally speaking, they dislike a nearer approach than about 
eighty yards, and though they will merely walk ofT at first if 
approached from below, an intruder from above will make them 
take wing almost at once ; while their vigilant sentries see to it 
that no advance is made unnoted. Generally speaking, there- 
fore, they need a rifle to bring them to book, and as their ground 
is also frequented by burrhel and tahr, many people find them 
rather a nuisance than otherwise, since when out with a rifle 
men prefer the four-footed game, and the alarm-whistle of the 
birds startles these. Moreover, although such fine big birds, 
and usually very fat, they are indifferent eating at best, and 


often positively nasty, no doubt on account of some herbs or 
roots they eat. All birds with this attribute of occasional 
unpleasantness, by the way, ought to be drawn as soon as killed, 
as this often prevents the tainting of the flesh by the food which 
may have been eaten ; and in any case some natives will eat 
them, so that shooting them is not by any means wanton 

Their chief enemy appears to be the golden eagle, but as he 
prefers, according to Wilson's excellent account of this species, 
to take his game sitting, and the snow-cock naturally does not 
wait for this, but flies off before his tyrant stoops, he does not 
often get one. But this may only apply to the young eagle, the 
ring-tail as Wilson calls it, from the banded appearance of the 
tail, which has a white base in the young ; no doubt the older 
birds learn by practice to catch their prey flying, and in fact 
I have read somewhere a description of such a chase in which 
the eagle used his advantage of height to drop on the flying 
snow-cock before the victim had got up full speed. 

The comparatively few birds which breed on the Indian 
side of the Himalayas nest from 12,000 feet upwards to the 
snows, making a " scrape " in some spot well sheltered from 
rain. The eggs are not unlike turkeys' eggs, but darker and 
greener in the ground-colour, an olive or brownish stone- 
colour in fact, with fine brown spots. Five is the usual clutch, 
and when more are seen it is to be suspected that two pairs have 
" pooled " their broods, though many pairs separate and bring 
up their young by themselves in the usual manner of partridges. 
The eggs are generally laid by the end of May, but sometimes 
not till early in July. This conspicuous bird naturally has many 
names : Huimval in Kumaun, Kubiik or Gourkagu in Kashmir, 
Leep in Kulu, and Kullu, Lupu, or Baera in Western Nepal, 
though the bird is not actually found in Nepal itself; the 
Mussoori hillmen's name, Jei'-moonal, implies a recognition of 
the relationship of this great partridge to the short-tailed so- 
called pheasants of the tragopan and the monaul groups. 


Tibetan Snow-cock. 

Tetraogallus tibetanus. Hrak-pa, Bhutanese. 

Although found in our territory from Sikkim to Ladak, it is 
only at the highest elevations that this species of snow-cock is to 
be found, and even on the wing it may be noticed as something 
different from the ordinary kind, not showing the conspicuous 
white on the pinion-quills, which are dark with white tips instead 
of the reverse. Close at hand the differences in plumage are even 
more striking, for the grey colour of the upper-parts only extends 
across the breast, the belly being white with black streaks. Here 
again, then, there is a reversal of colours in the two species, the 
common snow-cock having a grey belly and white breast, slightly 
barred transversely with back. Moreover, although the legs are 
of much the same colour in both species, the bare skin near 
the eye is red in the present bird, and yellow in the other. 

The Tibetan snow- cock is a much smaller bird than the 
Himalayan, the cock barely equalling the hen of that bird 
in size ; and in the Tibetan species the hen is not much 
smaller than the cock. 

The real home of this desolation-loving bird is the northern 
side of the mountains between India and Tibet, and it is 
generally distributed over the latter country, extending to 
Turkestan westwards, and east to Kansu and southern Koko- 
Nor. In the Himalayas it is seldom found lower than 15,000 
feet, and occurs up to 19,000. A sure find for it appears to be 
the Sanpo Pass, where it is particularly common. Scully found 
it abundant near there in 1874, having seen hundreds in one 
day ; he found them excellent eating and not very shy. 

According to Prjevalski, who observed it in its north-eastern 
haunts, this is a lively, noisy bird, with several calls — a 
note, uttered at rest, much like a common hen's, varied by a 
snipe-like whistle, a click, click, when alighting, and a goooo, 
gooo when settling down on the ground ; while it has a distinct 
whistle for reassembling a scattered brood. 

He considered the birds very wild, and found them good 
runners ; but both he and Scully noticed that they would 
not stand an approach from above so readily as from 


below, flying in that case instead of running, and thus 
in this point resembling their Himalayan relatives. 

This snow-cock does not seem to nest on our side of 
the hills, and not very much is known about its breeding 
anywhere. But Prjevalsky found them pairing in April, 
and came across young in August, some no bigger than 
quails, and others full-sized ; so that, here again like 
the Himalayan species, they must lay at different times. 

The eggs appear to be greenish- white with dark spots. 
Both parents lead the brood of from five to ten young, and 
when these are fledged, the whole take wing together and 
do not settle till they have put a ravine or valley between 
themselves and their pursuers. They moult in August, and 
even in September were not fat, though natives said that 
they did become so in autumn, so that towards winter they would 
probably be in good condition for the table. 

Grey Partridge. 

Francoli7ius po7idicerianus. Titar, Hindustani. 

The grey partridge, which is one of the sub-group of part- 
ridges known as francolins, is the partridge of India, and to it 
the name titar especially applies, though it is sometimes called 
gora or safed titar, to distinguish it, no doubt, from another very 
well-known francolin, the black partridge. It is not really grey 
any more than the so-called grey partridge which takes its place 
in Europe, but brown with pale cross-pencillings, not very unlike 
that bird, above ; but below it is decidedly different, showing none 
of the grey on the breast which the European common partridge 
{Perdix perdix) has, nor the " horseshoe " on the lower chest ; 
the under-parts in our Indian bird are barred w^ith fine rather 
sparse dark cross-lines on a pale buff ground. The throat is un- 
marked, and outlined by a rather imperfect black necklace. In the 
common partridge of India there is not even the small sex 
difference that occurs in the European bird's plumage, the cock 
being only distinguished by his spurs, which are well developed. 
The legs are red, but not bright as in the chukor or the " red- 
leg " at home. 


All these points are easily to be studied by any newcomer to 
India before he goes out to shoot, for this partridge, being 
the favourite fighting bird among sporting natives, is con- 
stantly to be seen in cages everywhere, and its characteristic call, 
kd, kit, kateetur, kateetur, as it is well rendered by Hume, is the 
first game-bird's note one is likely to hear other than the 
degenerate utterances of the domesticated descendants of the 
mallard and jungle-fowl and the cooing of the blue pigeons. 

Almost wherever one goes in India one is Hkely to find this 
bird, and it is also found m the north of Ceylon, where it is 
called Oussa-ivatmva, but is not an inhabitant of Burma, though 
in the opposite direction it is found outside our limits to the Gulf. 
It is absent in swampy districts and heavy jungle, and does not 
occur south of Bombay on the Malabar coast-line, nor is it found 
in Lower Bengal, being a bird of dry, warm soils, low cover and 
cultivation. But, although it is to some extent a percher, taking 
readily to trees when alarmed, and often roosting in them, it can 
do without such cover as well as without cultivation, and exist, 
if the ground be broken, in practically desert localities, as in the 
Sind hills. It does not go high in the hills anywhere, a couple 
of thousand feet being its limit. 

It is a bold bird, not only feeding on ploughed and stubble 
fields, but on roads, and visiting threshing-floors in the early 
mornings ; in fact, it hangs about villages so much that it shares 
the unsavoury reputation of the hare and the village fowl. Grain 
of all sorts it gladly eats, and also takes grass and seeds, young 
leaves and insects, especially white ants, breaking up a nest 
of these being an excellent way to attract partridges. Even 
when it has been living on irreproachable diet, however, this 
partridge is poor and dry compared with his savoury relative 
in Britain, and although he flies more smartly and strongly, 
has a great objection to doing so, and will run so persistently that 
to follow him is only missing chances at quail and hares, which 
are more certain shots ; tlfongh in some places, as in heavy grain 
crops on cloddy soil, the little skulkers can be made to rise willy- 
nilly, and then furnish good enough sport. They can also be 
treed by any dog which will hunt, and shot in this way, but 
in the ordinary way are only subjects for chance shots and not 
a regular object of pursuit. 


They are found both in pairs and in coveys, the latter pre- 
sumably being family parties, the cocks being far too quarrelsome 
to live together ; and they are prolific birds, for though nine is 
more than the usual number of the creamy-white eggs, they breed 
twice a year, at any rate in many cases, the spring nesting 
beginning in February, and the later about August. The nesting 
habits vary curiously ; the nest may be practically non-existent, 
the eggs being laid on the ground, or it may be a hollow in a 
tussock or under a bush, more or less lined with grass, or even, 
a most remarkable site, made in the branches of a thick shrub 
a yard off the ground. The Bengali name of this bird is Khyr, 
the Tamil Kondari ; Kawnnzu is the Telugu appellation. 

Swamp Partridge. 

Francolinus gularis. Bhil-titar, Cachari. 

The khyah, as this fine partridge is called by the Bengalis, 
is, unlike most game-birds, essentially a bird of swampy and 
alluvial soil, overgrown by high grass and cane; but even where 
it is commonly found along with other partridges, as it is in 
some places, it is a very distinctive bird. It is as big as 
a jungle hen, looks all its size on account of its long legs, and 
has a very smart appearance ; its upper plumage is much like 
that of the common grey partridge, but the under-parts, with 
their well-marked broad longitudinal white streaking on a 
brown ground, contrasting with the rich rust-red of the throat, 
are most characteristic, and make one wonder how people 
could ever have mixed this bird up with the chukor, with 
which it has nothing in common except being of good size for a 
partridge and having red legs, though these are not bright in 
tint. The male has sharp spurs, but this is the only sex 
distinction except his slightly larger sj^e. 

The swamps of the Tarai, and the low-lying lands along the 
courses of the Ganges, Megna, and Brahmaputra, and the lower 
reaches of their tributaries, are the habitat of this bird ; Cachar 
is its eastern limit, and it is found as far west as Pilibhit. 
Considering its tastes in locality, it is curious that it does not 


occur in the Snndarbans, and that it sometimes is found on 
land of as much as 4,000 feet elevation. Some of its haunts 
are so low that it is driven by floods to take to the trees in 
the rains, or to leave its home altogether and resort to cultiva- 
tion or bush-jungle. It is rare to find it in grass low enough 
to go after it on foot, and when on cultivated land the birds 
have a sentry posted on some bush. They are found in pairs, 
threes or coveys, and are more noisy and quarrelsome, if 
anything, than their smaller relative the grey partridge, whose 
call their own resembles, but with the last syllable cut off; 
evidences of their desperate battles are found in the honourable 
scars which adorn the breast of so many specimens, but these 
veterans are but dry eating, as may well be supposed. 
Their asserted enmity to the black partridge has been doubted, 
on the ground that the two species may in some places be 
flushed out of the same grass cover, but it is probable that in 
the breeding-season this large and fierce bird is a serious enemy 
to other partridges of smaller size, though there may be a 
truce at other times. At any rate, those who value the fine 
black partridge should have an eye on the " grass chukor " till 
he has been proved innocent ; though as a rule his preferences 
in the matter of habitat must make him harmless in most cases. 

If worked for from elephants, the kyah gives very good 
sport, but its flustering, cackling rise is rather trying at first 
to the nerves of behemoth if not to his rider. From the high 
cover it affects the breeding of this species is naturally not 
much under observation ; the eggs seem to be five in number, 
and are slightly darker than those of the grey partridge, and 
likewise differ in being sparingly marked with pale brown or 
lilac at the large end, having in this, it must be admitted, a 
slight resemblance to the real chukor's eggs. The nest is on 
the ground among high grass, and has been found in April. 

Besides Bhil-titur, this bird is called Bun and Jungli-titur 
in Hindustani ; Kaijah is another Bengali name, and the 
Assamese is Koera ; Koi is also used in Assam. 


Black Partridge. 

FrcDicolinus vulgaris. Kala tiiar, Hindustani. 

The black partridge, which is the original and typical fran- 
colin, is at once distinguished from all other Indian partridges 
by the prevalence of black in his colour ; his white cheeks and 
chestnut collar, and the beautiful variegation of white in pen- 
cilling on the tail and rump and spotting on the sides, make 
him one of the most beautiful partridges known, and, unlike 
the generality of our partridges, very distinguishable even from 
his own hen. In her, the markings are in the less contrast- 
ing tones of brown and buff, and differ somewhat in detail, the 
under-parts in old hens, at any rate, being pencilled, not spotted, 
while the collar is reduced to a patch of chestnut at the nape ; 
but this is quite enough to distinguish her from our other brown 
partridges, none of which have this chestnut nape-patch. The 
legs are orange, spurred in the cock. The weight of a cock 
black partridge is up to twenty ounces, though some are only 
half that weight, as the birds vary greatly in size ; hens run 
two or three ounces less than cocks. 

The marked distinction between the sexes is indicated by 
the Hindustani name Kais-titur for the female, Kala, of course, 
especially indicating the male ; the Garhwal name Tetra rather 
recalls the Greek tetrax for some game-bird, but is more pro- 
bably related to the Hindustani Titur ; in Manipur, the farthest 
point east at which the bird is found, it is called Vremhi. It is 
one of the few Indian birds of non-migratory habit which extend 
to Europe ; at any rate, it is still found in Cyprus as well as 
throughout Asia Minor, but is now extinct in the countries 
bordering the Mediterranean on the north, though formerly 
found even as far as Spain. As the classical ancients were as 
much given to introducing game as we are, it seems possible 
that the bird was in Greece, Spain and Ital}^ and the islands 
only an exotic after all, so that it is less surprising that it has 
failed to maintain itself. Even in India, though such a well- 
known bird, it has its definite limits ; it is only found in the 
northern provinces, and does not descend into Kattywar or 


below Orissa. Nor does it inhabit the hills above 7,000 feet, 
and to this elevation it only attains via the river valleys. It 
is also a bird of cover and cultivation, eschewing desert tracts, and 
affecting especially the sides of rivers where there is a thick 
growth of grass and tamarisk, as well as thin jungle, even scrub 
on very dry ground ; away from some sort of sheltering wild 
vegetation it is not to be found except as a straggler in most 
cases, though it is willing to haunt sugar-cane fields. 

In spite of its preference for cover, it is essentially a ground- 
bird, and, though in some localities it may take to a tree to call, it 
generally, even under the circumstances of delivering its morning 
message to the world, uses an ant-hill, fence, or rock as a pulpit. 
The call is harsh and metallic, of about half a dozen syllables, of 
which various renderings exist both in English and Hindustani, 
for there is something about the note which impels many people 
to try and put it into words. Hume says " Be quick, pay your 
debts " is about the best English version. The call is most heard 
in breeding-time and winter. 

The black partridge — although it is almost always in pairs, the 
family coveys only keeping together for a very short time — is very 
common in some localities, though, alas ! all too readily shot out. 
It is the best of Indian partridges as a game bird, and with the 
next species enjoys a somewhat similar status to the grey 
partridge at home, while if not quite so good as that bird on 
the table, it is nothing" to grumble at as a game course. It 
feeds, like the grey partridge, on insects, shoots, and seeds and 
grain, and is not always to be depended on for scrupulousness in 
diet when near villages, though not in this or in any way so low- 
caste a bird as the grey partridge. Blacks are not nearly so 
quarrelsome, and far less addicted to running, so that they afford 
really satisfactory sport ; they can be shot, according to the 
height of the cover, either on foot or from an elephant, and, in 
Hume's time, at the beginning of the eighties, fifty brace a day 
might be bagged by one gun, while far higher numbers are on 

This valuable bird, however, can be and has been worked for 
more than it is worth ; although it lays as many as a dozen eggs, 
it generally fails to raise more than a quarter of such a brood till 


they are even three parts grown, and this is put down to persecu- 
tion by vermin, which are allowed to work their will unchecked 
in India. Proper game preservation and due consideration in 
shooting — it might be as well to limit the bag to the easily 
distinguishable cocks — ought to make this bird as abundant 
as our home partridge in all suitable localities. 

The nest is very well hidden in crops or tamarisk or grass 
Jungle, and is of the usual partridge type — a scrape and a wisp ; 
the eggs, most often laid towards the end of June, are glossy and 
spotless, and are of a stone or fawn tint tinged with green or 
brown. It would very likely be a good plan to put some of these 
eggs in the nests of the grey partridge, removing the original ones, 
and see if this hardy but less valuable bird would rear the young 
of its betters, as this plan has often succeeded with game and 
other birds; but to find nests of the black partridge the aid 
of a good dog is very often requisite. 

Painted Partridge. 

Francolinus pictus. Kakhera kodi, Telugu. 

From the usual use of the word " painted " in characterizing 
birds, one would expect this species to be at least as handsome 
as the black, its near ally, which indeed is also called Kala titar 
by the Mahrattas ; but as a matter of fact it is not nearly so 
showy a bird, wanting the white cheeks and chestnut collar, 
though the face and throat are chestnut, and having the white 
spotting below so developed at the expense of the black back- 
ground that the general effect is light below variegated with dark, 
and the bird on the whole is rather more like the hen black 
partridge than the cock, though much purer in its colours. 

The hen of the present species is much like her mate — who 
has no spurs — but may be distinguished by the throat being white, 
not chestnut like the cheeks, and by the light barring on the 
lower back being coarse and buff, as in the similar marking in the 
hen black partridge ; in the cocks the rump-pencilling is narrow 
and pure white in both kinds. That the birds are closely 
related they themselves recognize, for cross-pairing takes place 


now and then on their borders, resulting in hybrids. It would 
be interesting to know which way these are bred ; theoretically, 
the handsomer and better-armed male of the black partridge 
ought to be able to elope with the ladies of the present species, 
which is moreover a decidedly smaller bird, but questions like 
these can never be settled theoretically, and observation often 
results in a surprise. 

The mention above of the frontier of these two birds coincid- 
ing illustrates the fact that the painted partridge is a southern 
Indian bird, which ranges even to Ceylon, though curiously 
enough it is not found in Mysore, or south of Coimbatore or 
of Bombay on the Malabar Coast. In Ceylon it is confined 
to some hills in the Newera Eliya district, and is not found 
anywhere outside it. The name "southern francolin " well 
expresses its position, though " painted " quite well describes it 
in comparison with the ordinary grey partridge, if not with its 
handsome dark northern cousin. 

Although so nearly related to this bird its ways differ 
considerably in detail. For instance, though the relationship 
is recognizable even in the notes, the calls of the two birds 
are not identical, that of the present one being rendered as 
Chee-kee-kerray; it also calls even earlier in the morning, 
and generally from a tree, in which the singer and his mate 
have probably passed the night, for this bird is far more of a 
percher than the last species or than most of our partridges, 
and is commonly to be found in trees in the morning and 
evening. The cocks, by the way, call very late as well as 
very early. 

The sort of localities which the black partridge affects are 
not so much favoured by the southern francolin, which is 
more partial to dry soil, and less fond of jungle; in fact, 
cultivated fields, if well supplied with trees, are a pretty sure 
resort for these birds, as is also scrub jungle on rocky ground; 
but they also haunt sugar-cane fields, and are in fact pretty 
easily suited, though in many districts very local. 

Although more given to running than the northern francolin, 
they are nearly as good both for shooting and eating, and can 
claim the only place near these birds in point of all-round 


excellence among our lowland small game. They feed on the 
same sort of food as black partridges, and, like them, are not 
beyond suspicion if shot near villages ; they also go in pairs — the 
coveys in this case too not keeping together long — and are not 
quarrelsome. The eggs of this bird are most often laid in August, 
and are deposited in similar places to those of the northern bird, 
and about as hard to find ; but they are smaller in size, duller in 
surface and fewer in number. In colour they are some shade 
of cream or drab, without spots. The young have a " peculiar 
cricket-like chirrup " which they begin as soon as they are 
hatched. This species is pretty uniform in size, and only weighs 
from about eight and a half to twelve and a half ounces, never 
approaching some blacks. 

Eastern or Burmese Francolin. 

Francolinus chinensis* Kha, Burmese. 

This third member of this beautiful spotted group of 
partridges is to a certain extent intermediate between the two 
Indian species; though not so large as the northern bird it is 
bigger than the southern, and the cock has more black in his 
under-surface colouring than the latter, and also possesses spurs. 
He has no chestnut collar, however, and in his head-colouring 
he is very distinct from either, and perhaps even handsomer ; for 
the face and throat are white with a bridle-like cheek-stripe of 
black. This marking is repeated on the head of the hen in buff 
and brown, otherwise she is very like the hen of the southern 
francolin or painted partridge. 

The Burmese francolin is not generally distributed over 
Burma, but only in the Thoungyen and Irrawaddy valleys 
and in Karermee and Tonghoo. In Karennee and down the 
Irrawaddy to Prome it is a common bird, and being a noisy 
one, especially in the breeding season, June and July, its 
presence is obvious enough. The call is of the same character 
as that of black partridge, but has a style of its own, and is 

*phayrii on plate. 


rendered by Wardlaw Ramsay as kul-, kuk, kuicJi, kd, kd. 
When calling it perches on a stump or branch. In Kaiennee 
it frequents the slopes of rocky hills, and in Pegu scrub jungle, 
waste land and open places in forests, and is partial to bamboo 
jungle, sometimes coming into paddy fields after harvest, though 
it avoids open country as a rule. It is fond, however, of the 
thick cover of deserted clearings. In the Thayetmyo district it 
is very common and appears more or less independent of v.ater, 
which is here scarce ; Oates suggests that this is probably due 
to its food consisting largely of buds and shoots, as well as 
insects. It does not seem to be much of a grain feeder, and is 
rarely seen in stubble. 

It will only rise when driven by beaters from its cover, and 
even then drops again as soon as possible, though it is a strong 
flyer and gives a sporting shot. It is good eating, according to 
Schomburgk, who met with it in Siam, and was told it roosted 
in trees. It is also found commonly in South China, Hainan, 
and Hongkong. 

It seems to breed chiefly in Upper Pegu with us, and 
lays from four to eight eggs, which are very like those of the 
black partridge, unspotted and of a greenish cream, bull", or 
stone-colour. The nests found have been on the ground, but 
Schomburgk was told that in Siam these birds nested in trees. 
There also he found it frequenting rice-fields and pasture-grounds 
in flocks, which does not agree with its habits in our territory, 
where it does not much affect cultivation and is not social, 
though many may be found in one place ; this is perhaps what 
Schomburgk means, and at any rate Swinhoe expressly says that 
in Hongkong it is solitary and does not associate in coveys, 
which is the character of these spotted francolins generally. 
Swinhoe also says the flesh is insipid, which also is more in 
accordance with what is known of the other species, though 
much of course in matters of flavour depends on local or 
seasonal circumstances ; no doubt grain-fed birds might be as 
good as our home partridges, as Schomburgk says these are. 



Caccahis chucar. Chukar, Hindustani. 

The chukor, a very familiar bird in the hilly and mountainous 
parts of Northern India, is distinguished from all other partridges 
by having no pencilling or streaking upon the upper plumage, 
which is also much greyer than in any of the others, in fact, 
often more grey than brown ; the colour varies according to 
situation, the greyest birds being found in dry districts with but 
little cover, and the brownest in places where there is plenty of 
moisture and shelter. This is, in fact, the most versatile of all 
partridges in its choice of a habitat; as Hume says, "In one 
place it faces a noonday temperature of 150° F., in another 
braves a cold, about daybreak, little above zero : here it thrives 
where the annual rainfall exceeds 100 inches, and there flourishes 
where it is practically nil." 

In its red beak and feet, the legs armed in the cock with a 
lumpy apology for a spur, its black necklace round a white 
(sometimes buff) throat, and the handsome vertical bars of 
black and brown on its blue-grey flanks, this bird at once 
recalls to mind its near relative, the "Frenchman," at home. 
It is a good big bird as partridges go, though very variable, hens 
being about a pound, while cocks may be half as heavy again. 
In the Himalayas it ranges up to 16,000 feet, being found in 
Ladakh, but is also found in the comparatively rich country of 
the southern hills, and ranges down to the Punjab hills and the 
barren rocky Mekran coast ; but it is not found east of the 
Indus in Sind, and does not extend to Sikkim. In Kashmir it 
is known as Kau-kau, in Chamba as Chukrii. 

It is a sedentary bird, not wandering much from its chosen 
haunts wherever they may be situated ; and though grassy hills 
are a favourite resort, rocky, bushy ravines will also hold chukor, 
and they like the vicinity of cultivation, and often glean in the 
cornfields in autumn; jungle they entirely avoid. In winter 
quite large packs, even up to a hundred in number, may be met 
with, where the birds are plentiful, but in any case coveys are 
the rule at this season, though when breeding they pair off as 


usual. The cocks fight furiously in the breeding season, and are 
often kept by natives as fighting birds. 

In high desert places they are very wild if they have been 
at all shot at, and give hardly any sport, but in the lower 
Himalayan hills they are far more easily accounted for, though 
they have the " Frenchman's " trick of running. They fly 
more strongly and sharply than our common partridges, and 
come downhill at a great pace if pushed up by dogs ; but they 
do not like rising after one good flight, and in such a case will often 
lie well when walked up. The native name, universally adopted 
by Europeans, is simply the bird's call, and it is very liberal with 
its note, especially when a covey has been scattered. The food 
of chukor consists of grain and other seeds, and often of insects ; 
they also take much gravel for digestive purposes. Old birds are 
dry and tough, but young ones good in autumn if hung ; they 
may be distinguished by having black instead of red bills. 

Chukor breed at any height in the Himalayas over 4,000 feet ; 
in the Punjab Salt Kange and the lower Himalayas they lay in 
April, but higher up the nesting may be deferred till three months 
later. The nest may be a mere scratching, or a pad of grass and 
leaves, and contain as many as fourteen eggs, or as few as half 
that number ; they are yellowish white, peppered or spotted with 
brown, much like the eggs of the French partridge, in fact, as 
one would expect. Outside India the chukor is found in Tibet 
and the Thian-shan range, and east to China, west to Aden in 
one direction and Cyprus in the other ; while the so-called 
Greek partridge (Caccabis saxatilis) of Eastern Europe only 
differs by having the face with a little more black, reaching to 
the corner of the mouth, in the eastern bird there is merely 
a continuation of the necklace beyond the eye up to the 
nostrils. The difference is unimportant, and the two birds are 
obviously races of one species ; while in the really distinct west 
European, French partridge [Gaccahis rufa) there is the definite 
distinction of a fringe of black spots outside the necklace-band. 



AmmopenUx honhami. Sisi, Hindustani. 

The sandy colour of the Seesee partridge, which much 
resembles that of the sand-grouse, whose desert dominion it 
invades, is a striking distinction from all our other partridges ; 
indeed, of these only the chukor is ever likely to be found along 
with it, and the red legs and conspicuous necklace of this are 
very distinctive points, as well as its much larger size; the 
Seesee is a very small partridge, only weighing about half a 

As in the case of the sand-grouse, whose more pigeon-like 
build at once distinguishes it from the Seesee, the two sexes 
have plumage which, though producing the same sandy effect, 
and closely assimilating them to the soil, is yet different in 
detail. The hen's is obscurely pencilled, but has no distinct or 
striking markings ; the cock is rather peppered, and has some 
distinct colour touches in the chestnut and black streaking on his 
sides, which rather recalls that of the chukor, but is longitudinal 
instead of transverse ; the delicate grey on the head and throat, 
set off by a black eye stripe, are also distinctive of him, and he 
has a bright orange bill. "When showing off to the hen, he stands 
erect, and puffs out his striped flank-feathers so as to make him- 
self look rather like a goblet or a lady in a crinoline. He has no 
spurs, and is believed not to fight ; but I should think that very 

Seesee are only found in the desert hills in the North-west, 
and even in such districts they prefer the barest rocky ground ; 
though, as they feed on seeds and herbage, they not unfrequently 
come on to grassy places. But even scrub they usually avoid, 
for they need no cover, since all they have to do is to sit tight 
if they want to hide. Being great runners, and often over very 
bad ground at that, and having a trick of shooting straight down- 
hill, they do not give much chance of a shot ; in some places, 
however, they are remarkably tame ; they give a rather harsh 
whistle when rising, but their characteristic call is the soft 
dissyllable which is imitated in their native name. They breed 


up to 4,000 feet elevation, laying usually amongst stones, with a 
little dry grass for a nest ; eggs may be found as late as June, 
but generally some weeks earlier. The eggs are spotless cream 
colour, often nearly white, and the chicks when hatched are 
covered with creamy-buff down, and not striped as in the majority 
of young game birds ; in fact, this species does pretty well 
conform throughout to the much overworked theory of protective 
coloration; and, indeed, as it is small and weak, and has not 
the powers of flight of the sand-grouse, one can see in its case 
why invisibility needs to be its main resource. It is found by 
some to be remarkably good eating; though Hume considered 
it inferior to a good chukor, and not of high quality. Outside 
India it ranges, if the country be dry enough, west to Persia, and 
a so-called species with but trifling distinctions {Ammoperdix 
heyi) is found on the confines of the Ked Sea and Persian Gulf ; 
but only these two, if they really are two, represent the particular 

Tibetan Partridge. 

Perdix hodgsonice. Sakpha, Tibetan. 

Considering that our home grey partridge is generally 
speaking a lover of rich cultivated land, it is very surprising to 
find that the only one of our Indian partridges which can claim 
a close relationship with it is only to be looked for in the highest 
and most desolate parts of the Himalayas ; though it is true 
that the first Indian specimen was shot on chukor ground in 
fields in the Bhagirathi. From chukor the present bird may be 
distinguished quite easily, according to Hume, who shot them on 
one of the high passes leading from the Indus to the Pangong 
lake. He noticed, he says, that " their whirring rise and flight 
were precisely those of the European bird and very different from 
that of the chukor." He was also led to search for them by 
hearing their calls, the remarkable similarity of which to that of 
the English partridge attracted his attention. 

This similarity extends to the plumage taken as a whole, but 
there are plenty of differences in detail ; most to be noticed is the 
white face and throat with well-marked black patch on each side. 


and the blotch of black, coalescing from black bars, on the part 
where the well-known horseshoe mark comes in the home 
partridge, when present. The weight of the Tibetan bird is a 
pound, and, like the home bird, it is excellent for the table. 
How it gets into good condition is rather a puzzle, for, according 
to Hume, its environment, like that of the snow partridge, which 
keeps fat on next to nothing, is not luxurious. He says, " The 
entire aspect of the hillside where these birds were found was 
dreary and desolate to a degree, no grass, no bushes, only here and 
there, fed by the melting snow above, little patches and streaks 
of mossy herbage, on which I suppose the birds must have 
been feeding." Prjevalsky, however, found the nearly allied race, 
Perdix sifanica, in rather less miserable surroundings in Alpine 
Kansu, where it inhabited rhododendron thickets. In Tibet its 
western limit seemed to be the Changchenmo valley ; those 
found in our territory are derived apparently from the Chinese 
portion of Tibet, occurring in Kumaun and British Garhwal. 

It has been found breeding near the Pangong lake, on 
ground where for 100 miles there was not even brushwood to 
break the monotony of rocky barrenness, and on the Oong 
Lung La Pass, leading from that lake valley to the Indus valley 
at an elevation of 16,430 feet, in this case among grass and low 
bushes. Ten eggs were in the clutch, but Prjevalsky says the 
Kansu bird lays fifteen. The Tibetan-taken egg which Hume 
obtained was of a glossy uniform drab, pale, but slightly tinged 
at each end, especially the larger, with reddish brown. 


Lerwa nivicola. Barf-ka-titar, Hindustani. 

When high up after mountain sheep and goats, on rocky 
ground near the snow line, one may start a covey of dark birds 
with conspicuous white patches on their wings, which spin away 
with grouse-like flight— evidently partridges of some kind, for 
there are no true grouse anywhere in India even in these 
Himalayan heights. These alpine partridges, the Leriva of the 
Bhutanese, would be recognizable even if they lived among 
others, for their closely cross-pencilled plumage with chocolate 


belly, and brilliant red legs and bill, are striking when close at 
hand. Yet in their own haunts the birds are hard to see on the 
ground, in spite of there not being enough cover to hide a 
sparrow ; for the snow partridge is true to its name, and if 
possible, will be on ground where the only vegetation is moss 
and the shortest of grass, interspersed with bare stone and snow 

On the scanty vegetation of these heights the birds contrive 
not only to live, but to get and keep fat ; their usual weight is 
over a pound, and may reach nearly a pound and a half. In 
winter they are perforce driven to the lower hills, but always 
keep to their preference for barren spots, and manage to keep in 
touch with the snow, not descending below 7,000 feet. 

Although not scarce birds and in some localities common 
enough for a hundred to be seen in a day's march, they are 
decidedly not generally distributed, and occur in localities often 
separated by a day's journey. Where rare, they are wild, but 
tamer where they are abundant, but in any case much shooting 
will naturally have the effect of making them less approachable ; 
in favourable circumstances, they rank as some of the best 
sporting birds, and only the superior attractions of four-footed 
game cause them to be neglected. Although best known as a 
Himalayan species, this bird extends outside our boundaries as 
far as Western China; its western limit is Kashmir. 

The call of these partridges is a loud harsh whistle, which they 
give out when approached, and they keep whistling when on the 
wing. They go in flocks or coveys except during the breeding- 
season, and even then sometimes several old birds may be found 
along with a number of young, as in the case of the snow-cock, 
which these birds resemble so closely in appearance and note when 
on the wing that unless it is possible to make out the great 
difference in size they are difficult to tell apart ; but the snow- 
cock is found on rather different ground, and is wilder and takes 
longer flights. 

They breed, as they live by preference, as near the snow-line 

as possible, on rather rough ground, on the ridges jutting out from 

the snow. The eggs are laid under a rock, apparently about the 

end of May, since chicks, according to Wilson, were first to be 



seen about the •20th of June. The eggs are large for the size of 
the bird, being bigger than those of the chukor, and are freckled 
with reddish brown on a dull white ground. About half a dozen 
chicks seem to occur in a brood ; they are mottled grey and black 
above, with three black stripes on the head, rufous under-parts, 
and black bills ; a certain amount of black remains on the beak 
when they are full feathered. The old ones show great attach- 
ment to them, sometimes shamming lameness in the well-known 
partridge fashion, and at other times walking away before the 
intruders with piteous calls, while che little ones squat, or creep 
under the stones. 

The snow-partridge is very good eating, and after keeping 
a few days resembles a grouse in flavour as much as in appear- 
ance. Besides the Hindustani equivalent of " snow-partridge," 
the bird is also called Bliair titar, Ter titar, and Golahi titar, 
while the Chamba name is Biju and the Kumaun one Janguria ; 
Quoir monal is given as the title in Garhwal. 

Common Hill-Partridge. 

Arhoricola torqueola. Peura, Hindustani. 

The characteristic peculiarities of this bird — the dumpy body, 
with short tucked-in tail, yet mounted on rather high legs, spur- 
less but furnished on the toes with very long claws only slightly 
curved, are characteristic of hill-partridges in general, the most 
numerous but least interesting group of partridges found with us. 

It has a greenish-brown back barred with black, and the sides 
are grey, streaked with chestnut and spotted with white. The 
head and breast differ in colour in the two sexes, but this is 
exceptional in the group, all the others having the sexes alike. 
In the cock peura the top of the head is chestnut, and the face 
and throat black slightly streaked with white, a band of which 
colour, unmixed with black, borders the grey breast above. The 
hen has a duller brown, black-streaked cap, and the ground- 
colour of the throat chestnut, though it also is marked with black ; 
the breast has a brownish tinge. In young birds of both sexes 
the white flank spots invade the breast also. 


The name Arhoricola (tree-haunter) is appropriate enou^'h if it 
means a dweller among trees, for all these tree-partridges live in 
forest, and in forest on hills ; hut they do not live in the trees like 
tragopans, though they perch sometimes, hut apparently not more 
than some of the other partridges, such as the painted species or 
southern francolin. 

The range of the present species is wide, for in addition to 
the Himalayas it is found in the Naga Hills and in those north of 
Manipur. It is a bird of the middle hills, not generally going 
above 9,000 or below 5,000 feet, and its especial haunts are dark 
forest-clad ravines and gullies. It may, indeed, be found close 
up to the limits of vegetation, and is then more easily seen, so as 
to give an idea of abundance, but its real home is lower down ; 
here, however, it is in its element as an accomplished skulker, 
and so is rarely seen. Dogs, however, will put it up, and its scent 
is so strong, says Hume, as to draw off the dogs from that of 
pheasants. Its flight is low, short, and very swift, and it must be 
hit by the snappiest of shots or not at all. It is practically omni- 
vorous, eating both insects and leaves, seeds and berries, and 
may often be seen feeding near the various hill pheasants ; open 
land and cultivation it avoids. As might be inferred from the 
length of the claws, it scratches for food a great deal. 

The note is a soft whistle, either loud or low according to cir- 
cumstances, only heard in spring, and easily imitated ; indeed, so 
like is it to the whistle with which the shepherds call their flocks, 
according to Hume, that these simple hill-men believe that the 
birds are the abodes of the transmigrated souls of former 
colleagues, and in some places object to their being shot in 

Peuras go generally in pairs or singly, though in autumn 
and winter coveys of half a dozen may collect. They are com- 
monly only shot casually, according to the rather scanty oppor- 
tunities they afford ; about half a dozen a day may be thus picked 
up when after better game. As food they are dry, but go well 
enough in a stew. The eggs are said to be about half a dozen in 
number, and white ; this, at any rate, is the usual colour of the 
egg in this very distinct group, which are all much alike in every 
way, chiefly differing in details of colour. 


The present species, being a widespread bird, has several 
native names; that given above is in use in Nepal and Kmnann, 
as well as Ban-titar ; the Lepcha name is Kolnnn-plw, and the 
Kaugra one Kaindal; Ramchukru and Roll are used in Chamba. 

Rufous-throated or Blyth's Hill-Partridge. 

Arhoricola rufogularis. Pokhu, Daphla Hills. 

The rufous-throated hill-partridge, which in Kuraaun shares 
the name of peura with the last species, is not unlike the hen of 
that bird, having the throat also chestnut variegated with black ; 
but the brown back is scantily spotted with black, not profusely 
barred as in both sexes of the true peura, and the legs are red, 
whereas those of the common hill-partridge are grey, with only a 
tinge of red. In having the breast clear grey, not drab, this 
partridge resembles the male rather than the female of the 
common hill-partridge. 

The rufous-throated hill-partridge, generally speaking, has 
the same range in longitude as the common species, though 
occurring in the Daphla Hills and those of Karennee and 
Tenasserim, where that is not found ; but it ranges through a 
different zone in altitude, being a bird of the lower hills, and 
descending even to their foot. Above 6,000 feet it is not to be 
looked for, even in summer-time. In Tenasserim birds the feet 
are not so bright a red, the size is altogether larger, and they are 
generally without a black stripe, which in the Himalayan race is 
found at the termination of the reddish brown on the neck. 

Besides keeping lower down, the red-throated hill-partridge is 
more sociable than the ordinary species, or, at any rate, forms 
larger coveys, according to Hume, but in other respects its ways 
are precisely similar. In the Daphla Hills it was noticed by 
Godwen-Austen to come down at night into the warm gullies, and 
feed upwards along the ridges, so that the natives were able 
to snare numbers by erecting little fences across their path, with 
openings set with bamboo-peel nooses, a method of capturing 
ground-game widely practised in eastern hills, and one that 


should be prohibited for its destructive results, in all districts 
where the natives do not really need wild creatures as food. 

In Tenasserini Davison found these birds curiously tame ; 
they would perch within a few feet of him, and sit there gazing 
and whistling, a proceeding strangely at variance with the usual 
retiring habits of this group. He says, by the way, that the calf 
is " a series of double whistles, commencing very soft and slow, 
but gradually becoming more and more rapid, and rising higher 
and higher, till at last the bird has to stop." This sounds as if 
the note were quite unlike the single whistle of the common hill- 
partridge, so that Hume was probably wrong in describing the 
calls as identical ; in the call being some sort of a whistle all 
these hill-partridges agree, but differences in detail are just what 
might be expected. Blyth, by the way, found these birds rising 
solitarily in Tenasserim, and in winter at that, so the social habit 
is also liable to variation. The food of this species is seeds, 
small snails, and berries, and like the last, they are great 
scratchers among dead leaves. A heap of these has been found 
to form the nest, and the eggs are white, of a dirty shade, and 
very scantily and minutely speckled with grey. Four fresh ones 
were taken below Darjeeling, on July 4th, by Mandelli ; but the 
full clutch may be larger, and no doubt earlier ones are to be 

Arakan Hill-Partridge. 

Arburicola intermedia. Toung-kha, Burmese. 

The hill-partridge of Arakan is so like the Tenasserim variety 
of the rufous-throated that it seems ridiculous to make a 
"species" of it, seeing that the rufous-throated itself varies 
according as it inhabits the Himalayas or Tenasserim. In the 
Arakan variety the black of the throat is concentrated into a 
patch reaching up to the chin, though there are specklings else- 
where ; the black border-line between the chestnut throat and 
grey breast is wanting as in the Tenasserim rufous-throated 

Hume very appositely points out that "both in this race and 
in the Himalayan one, specimens occur in which the black spots 


on the throat are large, and almost coalesce in some places ; and 
in our present species the throat patch is at times small and 
dotted with pale ferruginous, showing that it is nothing hut 
coalesced spots," and he therefore tliinks it no more worthy 
of separation than the Tenasserim form. 

Silly distinctions like these make ornithology ridiculous, and 
it is curious that Hume, holding the rational view above quoted 
as to the close alliance of this bird with the ordinary rufous- 
throat, wasted a plate on it. 

The only point of interest on record about the bird is that its 
white eggs have been taken in Manipur, where, as well as in 
North Cachar, and in the Naga Hills, it is now known to extend. 
The eggs were found in May, and six was the set found. 

Whitc-cKcckcd or Black-throated Hill- 

Arhoricola atrigularis. Duhoy, Assamese. 

The alternative Enghsh names of this species express two 
noticeable points in its coloration ; its Hindustani name is 
Peiira, which really seems to mean any sort of hill-partridge, 
these uninteresting species not attracting the special attention 
of natives. The Chittagong name is Sanhatai. 

Besides the white cheeks and black throat, this species 
is notable for not having any chestnut streaks on the white- 
spotted flanks, the ground of which is grey like the breast. The 
sides of the neck are buff, speckled with black, and the black 
throat patch frays out into spots as it joins the breast, and just 
above the juncture is mixed with white. The back is barred with 
black as in the common hill-partridge, but the legs are light 
orange-red. The red skin round the eye, commonly found in 
these hill-partridges, is noticeable even through the face-feathers 
in this species. 

This is a bird of our eastern hills, its western limit being 
Assam ; it ranges east to Cachar and south to Chittagong, but 
does not go north of the Brahmaputra. It is fond of dense forest 
and bamboo-jungle, and is usually only seen singly, though in 


\ \ 

Cotiirm/jc ccrornxuuiUbliaj^ . 

Coiximia:- coroinanddica. 

^' J'f^ 



Cotumia: coronhccncLdiea. 

•» * * » 


FuhgjiLa JiyrocfJL 

Arhcricnla a^vguiarLs. 



such cases it is suspected that often a covey may be really present, 
but refusing to rise simply because one of their number has been 
disturbed, for sometimes parties of half a dozen may be seen. 
Their call, according to Cripps, is "a voWiugwhiatle, whew, wheir, 
repeated many times, and winding up with a sharper and more 
quickly uttered wheio. As is usually the case with these part- 
ridges, the call can be easily imitated, and by such imitation they 
are most readily shot ; in the ordinary way, as with the common 
hill-partridge of the west, they afford only chance-shots, and are 
only worth picking up casually when such opportunities occur. 
They rise with a loud whirr and whistled alarm-call, and fly well 
and fast ; but will not fly at all if they can help it. The eggs are 
white, and have been found at the foot of trees on shaded teelahs, 
of about two hundred feet high ; the nest was a scrape lined with 
leaves and twigs, and four seems to be the full set, as they have 
been found incubated. 

Red-breasted Hill-Partridge. 

Arhoricola mandellii. 

This is the rarest and at the same time the most striking 
of our hill-partridges, so that it is curious that only very few 
specimens have been obtained so far, and these in Bhutan and 
Sikkim, always at low elevations. It is of the usual olive-brown 
seen in these partridges above, spotted distinctly with black ; 
below it is dull grey for the most part, with the chestnut markings 
on the flanks not very distinct, and the white spots small. But 
the throat and breast are very distinctly and handsomely coloured, 
the former being bright chestnut or rusty, speckled with black at 
the sides, while the latter is of a much deeper shade, verging on 
maroon ; between the two shades there is a well-marked double 
collar on the front of the neck, white above and black below. 
The hen is perhaps rather duller than the cock, but there is 
no certainty about this, nor about the colour of the legs, so that 
even the appearance of this bird is not fully known. As far as 
size goes, however, this species is markedly smaller than the rest 
of the typical hill-partridges. 

It seems to frequent heavy jungle on damp ground. 


Brown-breasted Hill-Partridge. 

Arhoricola hrunneipectus. 

The light buffy colour of the under-parts and face of this 
species make it recognizable at once among our hill-partridges ; 
on the breast the buff is strongly tinged with brown, and on the 
flanks with grey ; and these flank-feathers have black tips as well 
as white spots, but there are not the usual streaks of chestnut in 
this region. The throat-feathers are marked with black, and the 
red of the skin shows through them more or less. The brown 
back is barred with black, the barrings being bold and strong : 
and the back of the neck is black. This is one of the red-legged 
species — in fact, it is noticeable that most hill-partridges are red 
on the legs as well as round the eyes. 

In spite of the noticeable distinction in colour between 
this and the Arakan hill-partridge, the Burmese name Toung- 
kha appears to be applied to both, just as in the Himalayas 
Peura is rather a generic than a specific name. 

It is in the Ruby Mines district and the eastern hills of 
Tenasserim and Pegu, that this hill-partridge has been found 
so far, living in evergreen forest at any elevation up to 4,500 feet ; 
they especially frequent densely-w^ooded ravines and nullahs, and 
it has been noticed that the green-legged hill-partridge {Tropico- 
perdix chloropics) and the present bird are never found in the same 
valley, which points to some competition or conflict between 
them. In Pegu, where Oates observed this, it was found that 
these hill-partridges were only found on the eastern slopes of the 
hills, the western declivities being only clothed with jungle too 
thin to meet their requirements in the w^ay of cover. Here they 
were living almost entirely on hard seeds. 

At Thoungyah, Hume's collector, Darling, found them so 
common that he saw two or three coveys every day ; from six to 
ten formed a covey, but they were not easy to get. They uttered 
a "soft cooing whistle " as they ran about scratching amongst 
the leaves for their food of insects, little snails, and seed, but 
when treed by a dog their whistle became shriller and higher 
until another answered. The sight of a man drove them 


scattering into the dense underbrush. Tickell, who first 
described the species, says they cannot be flushed more than 
once, and when they had settled in the shelter of a bush they 
would squat till they were within a yard of the muzzle of his 
gun. He heard them now and then emit a purring note when 
creeping about in the cover. Except that it is believed to 
breed in May, nothing is known about the nesting of this 

Grccn-lcggcd Hill-Partridge. 

Trop icoperdix ch lurop us . 

The green-legged hill partridge is easily recognized, not only by 
its green legs, but by the coloration of the flanks, which, instead 
of being grey with white spots, as is usual in the group, are 
light reddish brown boldly marked with black. The upper 
throat is white, but the lower chestnut, speckled with black as 
in the rufous-throated species, and the breast is really brown like 
the back, which may easily lead to confusion with the brown- 
breasted hill-partridge so-called, which often lives in the same 
district as, though not exactly alongside, this one, and certainly 
has the breast no browner ; indeed, it is a particularly light, 
buffy-tinted bird. 

The colour of the back in the present species is brown, with 
rather fine and close markings of black. It has a remarkable 
peculiarity in the plumage of the upper flanks, where there is 
a white downy area, overlaid by the ordinary feathers, and further 
hidden by the closed wing. The use of this peculiar patch is 
not known, and it would be worth while to study the bird in life 
to see if it is displayed at anj^ time, or if, like the down patches 
on the breast and rump of a heron, it secretes a powdery 

The green-legged hill-partridge is not found in India proper, 
but is a Cochin Chinese and Burmese bird, occurring, like the 
brown-breasted species, on the Pegu hills, though not on the 
western faces of these, and also inhabiting Tenasserim, where 
indeed it was first obtained. In Pegu, Gates noted, as above 
observed, that it did not frequent exactly the same localities 


as the brown-breasted kind, even in the same district, and 
Tickell, who discovered it, remarked that in Tenasserim it 
actually avoided mountains, and frequented low-lying jungle on 
dry undulated groimd. Davison also observed that though 
sometimes found in heavy forest, it preferred a thinner growth, 
and unlike the rufous-throated hill-partridge, would settle again 
on the ground when flushed by a dog, instead of perching. 

In other respects, in their skulkmg habits, and in having 
a double-whistled note, these birds conform to the ordinary hill- 
partridge type, but the small differences of detail are interesting, 
as they are correlated with differences in structural points — 
the white down-patch under the wing, and the absence of 
a peculiar bony ridge over the eye which the typical hill- 
partridges possess. 

Malayan or Charlton's Hill-Partridge. 

*Tropicoperdix charltoni. 

Charlton's hill-partridge is a Malayan bird, ranging as far east 
as Borneo, which Hume apparently included, because it was said 
to have been sent from the hills of South Tenasserim, though he 
doubted its actual occurrence there. As a matter of fact, how- 
ever, it is very difficult to draw exact lines in the distribution of 
skulking forest birds like partridges of this type, and South 
Tenasserim forms the northern limit of several Malayan species. 

The present bird is closely allied to the green-legged species, 
and also has green legs, although Hume thought they were red 
and figured them accordingly ; I speak from examining live 
specimens at the London Zoo. The two species, however, 
present marked distinctions in marking and colouring, the present 
bird having distinct orange-rusty cheek patches and a plain chest- 
nut band beneath the black-speckled white throat. The black on 
the buff sides takes the form of distinct vertical bars, and that on 
the brown back is in very fine pencilling, finer than any found in 
our other hill-partridges, and recalling the delicate markings of 
some ducks. These two green-legged forms make a small 

*Perdix on plate. 


separate group of their own ; the present species has the usual 
habits, hving in coveys and skulking in forest cover, and feeding 
on the usual mixed diet. It is, however, not particular about 
elevation, going down to the bases of the hills, though not 
found off theiu. The note is described as a double whistle. 

Red-crested Partridge. 

RoUulus roiilroul. See-oul, Malay. 

To call this bird a wood-quail, as Hume does, is distinctly 
misleading, for there is nothing specially quail-like about it, 
since it closely resembles the hill-partridges in size and shape, 
being round and dumpy, with very short tucked-in tail, and, 
nevertheless, high on the legs. It has not, however, the long 
claws of the wood-partridges, and the cock would look among 
them like a rajah among coolies, with his bushy crimson aigrette 
and suit of deep-blue velvet. Before the crest springs a bunch 
of bristles, and this and the red eye-ring and legs are common to 
both sexes ; otherwise the cock and hen could hardly be imagined 
to belong to the same species, since the lady, though devoid of a 
crest, is almost as brilliant as her mate, being clad m leaf-green, 
a most extraordinary colour for any partridge, or for the hen 
of any game-bird for that matter. Her wings are chestnut, 
whereas the male's are only brown. 

The chicks are of a brown colour both in the down and in 
the first plumage, as has been ascertained from specimens bred 
in England. 

The red-crested partridge is a bird of the Malay region, 
extending from South Tenasserim down through the Peninsula 
and the islands to Java ; in Sumatra it is called Banisel. In spite 
of its very aristocratic appearance — there is something about it 
that always reminds one of a pigmy peafowl, in spite of the short 
tail — it has much the same habits as the common-looking hill- 
partridges, associating in small parties which frequent heavy 
forest, and having a whistling note, described as mellow and 
pleasant. The red-crests differ, however, in the detail of not 
being nearly such inveterate scratchers as the hill-partridges, and 


in quickness and alertness are compared to quails, like which 
they freely run about. 

Both cocks and hens are found in the coveys, which number 
up to a dozen. The cocks have no spurs, and nothing seems to 
be recorded about their ways in nature when breeding, though it 
is probable they break up into pairs at this time, and some 
fighting may take place. In captivity they are not at all shy. 

The cock is, at any rate, devoted to his hen, and, as I 
have seen myself in captive specimens, will feed her with tit- 
bits after the manner of the common farmyard fowl. The 
egg is known to be buff in colour. 

The food consists of seeds, berries, tender leaves, &c,, and 
insects ; as to the quality of the birds themselves for table 
nothing seems recorded. 

Ferruginous or Chestnut Wood-Partridge. 

Galoperdix oculea. Burong trung, ]\Ialay. 

This pretty bird approaches the typical partridges in shape 
more than the hill-partridges do, and its bright, chestnut plumage 
is very distinctive and marks it out from any other found with us ; 
on the sides and lower back the chestnut is diversified by black 
markings, which in the latter region indeed obscure the red ; 
the upper back is variegated with black and white. The only 
sex difference is the presence of spurs on the legs of the male ; 
the legs themselves are green. As in so many of our game- 
birds, more than one spur may be present. 

Like the red-crested wood-partridge this is a Malayan bird, 
gaining a place in the Indian list by penetrating into South 
Tenasserira ; but it does not range further east than Sumatra 
in the other direction. It is a lover of heavy jungle, where it 
feeds on berries, seeds, and insects ; but the places where Mr. 
Hume's collectors found it were so lonely that there were no 
inhabitants, and no paths except those made by the local big 
game ; and they never even saw the birds they got until they 
were caught. Even the Malays knew nothing about it, so that 
this, one of our handsomest small game-birds, remains eminently 



c^:^ \ 

%\ f 

/ f 


a subject for research. A hen bird weighed only eiglit ounces, 
but males would probably be a little heavier ; but the bird is not 
a big one, measuring well under a foot. 

Jungle Bush-Quail. 

Perdiculn asiatica* Lowa, Hindustani. 

This funny, thick-set, stout-billed little bird, though not so 
big as the ordinary quail, is really a pigmy relative of the ordinary 
grey partridge, which it much resembles in many of its ways, 
even to the detail of getting into a temper when blown upon in 
a cage. Like larger partridges, it has an easily distinguishable, 
though small, tail, and oven a rudimentary spur on the legs of the 
cock. The bright chestnut head will distinguish it from all our 
other quails, except its near relative next to be mentioned ; both hen 
and cock have this ginger headpiece, but the rest of the hen's 
plumage is a simple light brown, while the cock sports a z;ebra 
waistcoat of black and white. Young birds have the plumage 
brown with pale streaks, and no reddish tint on the head. The 
bill is black, and the legs orange. 

The native name Loiva, applied to this bird, is also given 
to button-quails, and evidently means some bird which is much 
like a quail, but not the exact thing. Other names — Juhar, 
used in Manbhum, and the Canarese Karl Loivga, Sonthal 
Anriconnai, and Telugu Girzapitta, bearing witness to the marked 
personality of this little fellow, which is a favourite fighting bird 
with natives, combating with more noise and fury than even the 
grey partridge. 

It is confined to our Empire, and in that to the Peninsula and 
North Ceylon ; while even in this restricted range it is local, 
although a dry or moist climate does not affect it much ; nor is it 
particular about elevation, ranging up to -5,000 feet. But it wants 
its location dry underfoot, and frequents wooded and broken or 
sloping ground, though it will come into grass and stubble to 
feed, and is quite contented with scrub cover ; but cover of some 

* caTnhaiensis on plate. 


sort it must have. Altliongb a ground bird, it will take to trees 
if put up by dogs, like the grey partridge, and it also has the 
partridge habit of sociability carried to an extreme, for, though 
sometimes found in pairs in the breeding-season, it is usually 
found in coveys, even up to a score in number, which pack very 
closely, and forage about together like a flock of guinea-fowls in 

This extreme sociability, which, as in the great snow-cocks, 
extends so far that young ones may be seen in company with 
several of their elders, makes it strange that the birds should be 
so pugnacious, but probably the ties of friendship only hold for 
the same covey, which are mostly, no doubt, near relatives. 
Strangers are probably barred by flocking birds as well as solitary 
ones ; and in the case of another well-known social bird, the rat- 
bird or common babbler {Argya caudata), two flocks working the 
same hedge have been seen to meet and fight with such fury that 
they adjourned to the road to fight out the matter in couples. 
Be that as it may, this bush-quail is commonly captured by 
means of a decoy-bird in a cage set with nooses, like the grey 
partridge ; for more sporting methods of capture it is not of 
nmch use, despite a remarkably tame disposition, for when 
pressed the whole covey explodes, as it were, in all directions, 
whistling and whirring — including sometimes, as Tickell says, a 
close shave of the sportsman's countenance — and each member 
drops as suddenly as it rose after just shaving the bushes in a 
very swift flight of a couple of dozen yards, rapidly reassembling 
to the peculiar trilling pipe of the head of the covey. When 
bagged bush-quail are not much to boast of, weighing little over 
two ounces, and being very dry. They feed chiefly on seeds of 
grass and millet, and are pretty certain to be found in ragi 
stubble ; insects are also often consumed. 

They breed very late in the year, beginning in September, 
and eggs may bo taken in February ; the nest is under a tuft of 
grass or a bush, and fairly neatly made, and the eggs pale creamy 
and as few as four or as many as seven in number. 







Rock Bush-Quail. 

PerdicnJa arrjunda* Sinkadeh, Tamil. 

This, the only near relative of the last species, has been very 
much mixed up with it ; the native name in Hindustani is the 
same, though in Canarese it is distinguished as Kemp Loiogn, 
and in Telngu as Laicunha. The wonder is that the birds 
themselves have not got mixed up, especially as they sometimes 
occur together ; if they inhabited separate areas altogether one 
would be inclined to regard the present one as only a local race 
of the other. In Hume's plate, as he points out, a female of the 
jungle species does duty in the foreground (the standing bird) as 
a representative of this one, and the plate is lettered for that 
species. Yet there is a positive difference; in the present species 
both webs of the pinion-quills are marked with buff, while such 
markings are only on the outer web in the other. The differences 
elsewhere are mostly comparative, as is usual in local races rather 
than true species ; the rock bush -quail is larger, has the red of 
the head much duller, and, in the cock, the barring of the under- 
parts broader. The hen has the top of the throat whitish, and 
a whitish abdomen, but both lack the eyebrow-stripe of white 
found in the other kind. The rock bush-quail is not found in 
Ceylon at all, and, though a Peninsular bird, is on the whole 
differently distributed, since it is usually found on different 
ground, the two species largely replacing each other; though, 
as has been said above, they may at times be found together. 

The rock bush-quail is not so fond of cultivation or elevated 
land, being more a bird of dry sandy plains or hillocks, where the 
only vegetation is scanty scrub; it is, in fact, a bird of the open 
wastes, though, as its name implies, it especially likes rocky 
ground. Except for this choice of location, it is very like its 
ally in all its ways ; occasionally takes to trees when disturbed, 
and goes in the same coveys, which go off in the same sort of 
feathered feii de joie when flushed. It affords fair sport when 
worked with dogs among the low scrub, but is as dry eating as its 
relative ; though, as Hume rather sarcastically admits, it will 

*asiutica on plate. 


make a o^ood pie in conjunction with a whole laider-fnll of acces- 
sories which he enumerates. It is also captured by natives as a 
fighting bird, but is not so much used or so highly esteemed. 

Like the jungle bush-qu^-il, it is sociable even in the breeding- 
season, which lasts from August to March, young birds being 
seen in company with several old ones ; the eggs are creamy 
white, and four or five in number. Hume says he has noticed 
no difference in the note, which makes it the more reuiarkable 
that the birds maintain their distinction, since a difference 
in language is often found between otherwise similar birds, 
notably the common and grey quails. 

Painted Bush-Quail. 

* Microperdix erijthrorhynchus. Kadai, Tamil. 

The painted bush-quail is distinguished from all our other 
quail-like birds, except the next, which is merely a local race of it, 
by its red bill and legs and the large black spots on its brown 
plumage ; the cock is distinguished from the hen by having a 
white throat and eyebrow^s, and black face, chin and cap, the 
head in the hen being, like the belly in both sexes, of a chestnut 

In young cocks the black cap is the first sex-mark to appear. 
Although approaching the thick-billed bush-quails rather than 
the typical quails, this bird has a smaller beak, no indications of 
spurs, and rises with less of a whirr. 

It is found on the hills of Southern India, the Nilgiris, 
Pulneys, and Shevaroys, and ranges up the Western Ghauts as far 
as Bombay. It is also to be found in hillj'^ tracts east of these 
Ghauts, and has strayed even to Poona. In habits it is a bush- 
quail, not a typical quail ; it frequents the outskirts of jungle and 
rocky ground interspersed with low cover, and associates in 
coveys, the members of which generally all go off together, but in 
different directions, when flushed. Sometimes, however, they 
rise independently and at intervals of several minutes ; unless 
— _ ,_ 

* Perdicula on plate. 


hunted out by a dog, however, they very strongly object to 
rising twice. 

Their call, according to Davison, is " a series of whistling 
notes, commencing very soft and low, and ending high and 
rather shrill, the first part of the call being composed of single 
and the latter of double notes, sounding sometimes like tu-tu-tu- 
tii-tutu-tutu-tutu, &c." By the use of this call, given low and 
cautiously at first, the scattered covey is reunited again ; the call 
seems to have something of the ventriloquial character. 

They resemble the thick-billed bush-quails in being very 
quarrelsome in spite of their sociability, so that they are readily 
captured in a trap-cage with a call-bird in the inner compartment. 
The ferocity of some of these harmless-looking little game-birds, 
and their powers of hurting each other, are indeed remarkable. 
I remember once seeing one of this species put into a cage where 
there were others, and after being left unwatched for only a few 
minutes, it had to be taken out and killed owing to the cruel 
mangling its head had undergone at the beaks of its new 
associates — this again exemplifies what I suggested in the case of 
the jungle bush-quail, that charity begins (and ends) at home 
with these birds. 

The painted bush-quail is of a tame nature, and likes to live 
near cultivation and roads, where grain can be obtained ; it 
especially likes millet, but also, of course, feeds on wild small 
seeds, which, with insects, form its main diet. It runs so swiftly, 
says Miss Cockburn, as to look like a little brown ball rolled 
along the ground. No one seems to have made any special notes 
about the table qualities of this bush-quail ; its weight is from 
about two and a half ounces. It is resident in its chosen haunts, 
and, except perhaps in May, June and July, eggs may be found 
in any month of the year in one place or another ; on the Nilgiris 
Miss Cockburn found that the birds bred twice yearly ; in the 
first quarter of the year and again in autumn. As is so usual 
with this group of birds, the nest may be a mere scrape in the 
soil or have a lining of grass ; the cream-coloured eggs, which 
are ten or even more in number, are described by Hume as 
intermediate in size and colour between those of the grey 
partridge and the rock bush-quail. The young are exceedingly 


active, and start on the move a few minutes after being hatched. 
Their down is dark with three longitudinal cream-coloured stripes, 
and both parents accompany them — indeed, one very unsports- 
manlike way of capturing old birds is to dig a hole, catch some 
of the little innocents, and put them in, when the parents soon 
jump down to them, and a cloth is thrown over the lot. 

Eastern or Blcwitt's Painted Bush-Quail. 

*Micrope7-dix hlewitti. Sirsi loiva, Hindustani. 

This race of red-legged or painted bush-quail found in the 
Eastern Central Provinces, where the ordinary kind does not 
occur, differs from the type in no important particular, and here 
again I wonder Hume wasted a plate on it ; the result was not 
happy, as the legs and bills of the birds are there represented as 
yellow, whereas they ought to be red — a mistake of the artist's, of 
course. The distinguishing points, as usual in a local race as 
compared to a true species, are merely comparative ; a smaller 
beak, greyer tone of plumage, dull pinkish tinge over the abdomen, 
instead of only on the breast and along the flanks as in the 
typical form, greater extension of the white on the head of the 
cock at the expense of the black face and crown, and finally 
smaller size, w^hich barely reaches two and a quarter ounces, 
while in the other race it runs from this to over three. It was 
said by Blewitt, the sender of the first specimens to Hume, to 
be delicate and well-flavoured. 

He also found that it went in coveys of sometimes more than 
a dozen, living in forest, grass, and scrub on hilly ground. He 
noted, from native information, the breeding-season as November 
to January, but Thompson gives it as June and July, soon after 
the rains begin, the young flying in September. The fact 
probably is that this race and the typical one both breed at 
any time which local conditions make convenient for them. 
Thompson's note, however, that the male in the courting-time 
often repeats a loud single note, is worth quoting, and also his 

• Perdicula on plate. 


experience in finding these birds frequenting " long grass on the 
banks of nullas and rivers." Blewitt gave the notes as "more 
soft and melodious " than that of the others, by which " others " 
presumably he meant the thick-billed bush-quails ; so this need 
not indicate a difference in voice between the two races. 

Hume's Bush-Quail. 

Microperdix manipurensis. Lanz soibol, Manipuri. 

This bush-quail can really be called a grey quail, since its 
prevailing colour above is slate, with no tinge of brown, but 
diversified by black markings ; the under-surface is mottled with 
buff and black, the buff predominating as large spots, almost 
concealing the black groundwork. The legs are orange, and the 
only difference between the cock and the hen is the dark reddish- 
chocolate face of the former sex. 

In Manipur this bird is fairly common, but very hard to get, 
or even to see, as it haunts high grass, and even after this is 
burnt is still difficult to discover, owing to its dark colour 
harmonizing with the burnt stubble. It affects the neighbour- 
hood of water, and keeps in coveys which run closely packed. 

Eggs have been obtained in Manipur, but not preserved ; 
they are marked with blotches of brown and black on a greenish 
ground. Our knowledge of this quail is due entirely to Hume, 
its discoverer, who got a few specimens with a great deal of 
trouble in beating and cutting down huge quantities of the high 
grassy cover wherein he observed them, and to Captain Wood, 
who shot numbers of them as lately as 1899. 

Since this Mr. C. M. Inglis has procured specimens of a very 
nearly allied species, named by Mr. Ogilvie Grant after him 
Microperdix inglisi, in Goalpara ; the differences from the 
Manipur bird are very slight, the comparative scantiness of the 
black markings being the most noticeable. This form is also 
suspected of occurring in the Bhutan Duars. Its Goalpara name 
is Kala goondri. 


Comtnon Quail. 

Goturnix communis. Bater, Hindustani. 

When Marco Polo had travelled in India, he ventured on the 
observation that all the birds and beasts there were different 
from those of Europe, except the quail ; and though, as we all 
know, this is by no means correct, it is nevertheless striking to 
find a bird so well known in Europe as the quail also equally 
familiar in the East. There are, however, several little game- 
birds which go by the name of quail in India, and it is as well to 
point out the distinctions of this species, which is the original 
quail, from all the rest. In the first place, it is distinguished 
from most of them by having such a very indistinct tail, the real 
tail-feathers being so soft and so exactly like those of the rest of 
the hind-parts, that it is difficult to sort them out, as it were ; 
this character is also found in the button-quails, which are not 
true quails at all, but these only have three toes instead of the 
usual four. The soft tail and four-toed feet will, then, distinguish 
the common quail from all familiar quail-like birds except its allies 
the rain and painted quails, and it is larger than either of these, 
to say nothing of other differences ; the closed wing measures at 
least four inches, whereas it does not attain this length even in 
the rain-quail, while the painted quail is far smaller again than 
this. The distinctions of the rare Japanese quail will appear 

There is nothing very noteworthy in the general plumage of 
the common quail ; it is often called grey quail, but the name 
is misleading, as the plumage is not grey or even greyish, but 
light brown, well variegated with black, and diversified above by 
well-marked longitudinal streaks of cream-colour. The pinion- 
quills of the wing are drab, barred with buff, and this is the chiet 
distinction from the rain-quail, in which these quills are uniform 
drab with no markings. 

The difference between the sexes is not apparent on the 
upper plumage, but is noticeable enough below, where the cock 
is a plain clear uniform buff, with the throat marked with sooty- 
black on a whitish or brownish-red ground. In the hen the 









^, q: 







tliroat is always all white, but the breast is marked with short 
blackish streaks as in a lark, and the general tone below is paler 
and not so buffy, more of a cream-colour. The largest quail of 
this species are hens, but many cocks are as big as most of their 
mates ; the weight ranges from 3''2 ounces to 4"62 ounces — a big 
variation for so small a bird, but a good deal has to be allowed 
for condition, the quail being a bird which under favourable cir- 
cumstances gets very fat. Nothing need be said about its value 
for the table, since it has been esteemed in this capacity for untold 
ages, and therefore persecuted by man longer and more thoroughly 
than any other species of bird whatever. Nevertheless, it is still 
exceedingly common almost throughout the north temperate 
parts of the Old World, and in India, which is one of its great 
wintering-places, is the most abundant of all game birds during 
the winter months, though its numbers vary much in different 
years, and also the wideness of its distribution. A few — a very, 
very few — remain to breed here, but nearly all normally leave 
us by the end of April. 

It is, indeed, essentially a long-distance migrant, the only 
one of its family ; indeed, most of them, whether pheasants, 
partridges or other quails, are considered good fliers of their 
kind if they go ordinarily a mile without alighting, while this 
little quail crosses both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, 
though often absolutely worn out by a long passage. There is 
a great loss of life during migration owing to the powers of flight 
of the birds being barely sufficient for such long journeys, and 
evidently thousands of years of evolution have failed to com- 
pletely adapt this bird to habits so unlike those of its kin. 
The difference in flying power would never be appreciated by 
observers of the ordinary habits of the quail, for when flushed 
in the fields it seldom flies a quarter of a mile, or rises more than 
a yard or two from the ground ; its flight is very straight and 
steady, and performed by a continuous quick beat of the wings. 
Although swift, it is not a difficult bird to shoot, and where it is 
common may be shot in enormous numbers ; bags of a hundred 
brace in a day are mentioned by Hume, and yet the birds are not 
at all gregarious, but get up and fly singly, though when on the 
move they do travel en masse. When migrating they travel at 


night, and must often go very high, as they cross the Himalayas 
on one of their migration routes ; in fact, the bulk of our quail 
in India come to us in this way, arriving usually during the 
first half of September. These have summered in Central Asia ; 
but a further set come in on our north-western coasts, from 
Arabia and Africa, and these arrive before August is out. 

Once arrived in India, the quail proceed to distribute them- 
selves according to circumstances ; a place may be swarming 
with them one day and deserted the next, for they still keep 
moving on in many cases. They never reach the extreme 
southern and western parts of our area, however, not penetrating 
as far as Ceylon, nor have they been found in Tenasserim, while 
even in Chittagong and Burma they are rare. In Lower Bengal, 
also, they cannot usually be very common, for I only heard of 
them as abundant in the winter of 1900-1901, out of seven 1 
spent in Calcutta. In years of scarcity they are common in 
Central and Southern India, and the worse the season the 
further they naturally go ; but normally Upper India is their 
stronghold, though they are only really abundant locally. In 
March they are commonest, because then they are drawing up 
for the northward migration. The variation in their visiting 
numbers is estimated by Hume as probably one of many 
millions, and this is quite likely, for this quail is probably one 
of the most numerous birds in the world. Man, it is true, is a 
great enemy, as has been said ; but, on the other hand, he creates 
conditions favourable for the bird, which is quite at home in 
cultivation, and only avoids deserts, swamps, and forest, which 
are just the sort of country which man desires to see converted 
into cultivable land, and which without him form the major 
part of the earth's surface. The common quail not only finds 
shelter, but food in human cultivations ; for although in the 
wilds its food must consist only of grass-seed, small berries, and 
insects, it gladly feeds on grain, especially the various kinds 
of millets. When the crops are reaped, it takes to bush-jungle 
and a diet of wild produce. Quail feed in the morning and 
evening, and probably also at night, for in captivity they are 
active then ; by day they are very sluggish, and may even be 
trodden upon sometimes before rising, though at others they 


will run some distance. When winged, they are easily lost, 
as they hide adroitly, and will readily " go to ground " in any 

When at ease their note is a low whistling chirp, but is 
harsher when they are forced to rise, and the male's spring call 
is very distinct, a loud clear trisyllable, of which many render- 
ings exist. Mr. E. Kay Kobinson's "Dick, be quick" expresses 
it best to my ear. Although possessed of but a small bill and 
devoid of spurs, the cock is intensely quarrelsome, and quail- 
fighting is as popular a sport in India now as it used to be in 
ancient Greece. This quail is a very prolific bird, laying as 
many as fourteen eggs, bat such as breed in India do not appear 
to l&y over ten ; the nest is made of a little grass, of course on 
the ground, for, like all typical quails, this species never even 
perches. The eggs are very distinctive in appearance ; they are 
large considering the number laid, measuring more than an inch 
in the long diameter, and are marked, generally heavily, with 
chocolate on cream colour. Such quail as breed here lay in 
March and April, but these are, no doubt, usually "pricked" birds, 
though in 1872 these quail bred freely about Nowshera, probably 
influenced by the backward season of that year; but there appears 
no general tendency in Asiatic common quail to become residents, 
as they often do in some other countries, notably Spain and 
Ireland. Probably the competition of other birds of similar 
type is the deterrent to their colonization of India, for the strong 
point of the species appears to be the power of flight which 
enables it to occupy ground which other birds of the family 
can never reach. 

The many names of this bird probably mean " quail " in 
general in most cases — Butairo in Sind and Batri in Bengali 
recall the Hindustani name ; Biir-ganja and Gur-ganj are used 
at Poona, and Burll at Belgaum, while in Tamil and Canarese 
the names are Peria-ka-deh and Sipale liaki, the Telugu name 
being Gogari-yellachi. Botah Surrai is the Assamese name, and 
Soibol in Manipur, while the Uriyas use Gundri. When 
mentioned specifically the species is distinguished in Hindustani 
as Gagus or Burra Bater. 


Japanese Quail. 

Coturnix japonica. Udzura, Japanese. 

The male Japanese quail is easily distinguished from the 
male common or grey quail, to which it is very closely allied, 
by having a brick-red throat with no dark marking or only a 
central streak. In the hens the difference is chiefly to be found 
in the structure, not the colour, of the feathers of this part, the 
Japanese bird having the throat-feathers noticeably long and 
pointed at the tips ; at the sides of the throat these elongated 
feathers are edged with reddish. In both sexes the reddish tint 
on the flanks is brighter than that found in the same place on 
the common quail. 

Hens of this species have been shot in Bhutan, Karennee, 
and Manipur, and as this is the ordinary quail of the mainland 
of far eastern Asia, as well as Japan, it is quite probably a 
common winter visitor to the eastern parts of our Empire. The 
only noteworthy difference in the ways of this bird and the 
common quail appears to consist in the note of the male, which 
is said to be deep and hollow, of several rapidly-uttered syllables. 


Coturnix coromandelica. Chota hater, Hindustani. 

Although the cock rain-quail is noticeably distmguished by 
the black streaks — in old birds coalescing into a black patch — 
on his more warmly-tinted breast, and by the purity and dis- 
tinctness of the white and black of his throat, the species is 
very commonly confounded with the common quail, and it must 
be admitted that the hens are almost exactly alike. In this 
bird, however, there is none of the light chequering on the 
pinion-quills in either sex, and it is smaller altogether than the 
common quail, not exceeding two ounces in weight. 

When used to it one can always pick out even the hens, 
without looking at the quills, by their brighter colouring and 
smaller size, which is conspicuous enough to distinguish this 
bird even in flight. The same native names, however, usually 


are given to both, though the Telugu speakers call this bird 
Chinna yellichi, and the Tamils Kade, while Chanac is used in 
Nepal. This species, although to a great extent locally migratory, 
is a purely Indian and Burmese bird ; but it does not extend 
to the confines of our Empire, being absent from Kashmir in 
one direction and Tenasserim in the other, while it is not found 
in Ceylon, attempts to introduce it (and the common quail also) 
having apparently failed. 

Its name, rain-quail, has reference to its appearance in certain 
districts coinciding with the opening of the rains ; these are the 
drier parts of Upper India and Burma, and it visits these to 
escape, apparently, from the damp in the more low-lying and 
rainy tracts, where, as in Lower Bengal, it is common enough 
in the dry months. It is generally a bird of the plains, but on 
the advent of the rains will penetrate up to 6,000 feet in the 
Himalayas and Nilgiris. In the Deccan it is resident, and also 
in parts of Southern India. 

It frequents the same sort of low cover as suits the larger 
quails, and the two may often be flushed in the same locality ; 
but although it comes freely into grassy compounds, it is not 
quite so much addicted to cultivation, preferring wild grass- 
seed to grain. It also feeds on insects, and Hume records 
having found one which had fed on the scarlet velvety mite, 
a remarkable article of diet, as he says, usually avoided by 

On the whole, however, there is nothing noteworthy in its 
ways to distinguish it from the common quail, except its very 
distinct two-syllabled note ; it is just as pugnacious, is kept for 
fighting, and fattened for food in the same way. Hume thought, 
however, it was slightly inferior as a table bird. Like the 
common quail it is found in pairs or singly, not in coveys. Its 
breeding season lasts about half the year, from April onwards, 
sometimes even to November, and the eggs are in some cases 
very like those of the common quail, but they are smaller, and 
vary enormously, some being finely peppered and freckled, and 
some marbled. The ground colour also varies from a decided 
buff to nearly white, and the markings may be blackish, olive, 
or purplish brown. But only one shade is found on one egg, and 


all the eggs in a set, which does not exceed nine, unless two 
hens lay in one nest, as often happens, are usually much of the 
same type. The cock, which feeds the hen during courtship, 
keeps close at hand during incuhation. The very scanty nest 
is placed among crops or moderately high grass. The main 
breeding-ground of this species in India is in the Deccan, 
Guzerat, and Central India ; it appears to be much persecuted 
by vermin, for where the birds are breeding freely an enormous 
number of broken-up nests are to be found. 

Painted Quail. 

Excalf actor ia chinensis. Khair-hutai, Nepalese. 

Only about the size of a sparrow, the painted quail is not 
likely to be mistaken for any of our game birds, except perhaps 
the even tinier little button-quail, from which the darker colour 
will distinguish it on the wing, and the yellow, four-toed feet in 
the hand ; it is quite a sporting bird, too, and when flushed flies 
for fifty yards or more, low over the grass. Close at hand, a very 
striking difference is observable between cock and hen, the 
former having a blue-grey breast and sides, and the centre of the 
under-parts rich chestnut, while those handsome colours are well 
set off by the characteristic black anchor-mark on a white ground 
on the throat of the true quails, the colours in this species being 
as distinct as in the rain-quail. The young cock is at first brown 
below like the hen, but gets his full plumage in little over a 
month. It is only when a pair have fledged young that these 
quail are seen in coveys, otherwise they are found singly or 
in pairs. 

The cock is much attached to his mate, and feeds her with 
insects ; besides the chirping alarm-note when flashed, he has a 
distinct trisyllabled call, tee-iuee-wee. 

Like the rain-quail, this bird does not leave the Indian 
Empire (although it has a wide range outside it to the south- 
east, even to China) but is locally migratory within it. It 
is found at one time or another almost all over India and 
Burma, and in Ceylon, but it is essentially a bird of moist 



districts, and absent from the dry regions of the north-west. 
It ascends the Himalayas into the temperate region, and in 
Lower Bengal, where so many widely distributed birds are 
wanting, it is quite common in the cold weather. To the foot- 
hills of the Himalayas and districts adjacent it is a rainy-season 
visitant, and immense numbers arrive in Pegu at the beginning of 
May. The favourite haunts of these tiny birds are open, moist 
grass-land, and they frequent the grassed lands of paddy fields, the 
paddy-stubble itself, and scrub-jungle. They feed on grass-seeds 
and insects, but will also take millet. Where bigger quail are 
scarce they may be found worth shooting, if anyone cares to 
expend powder on birds which do not weigh at most more than 
a couple of ounces ; I never heard of anyone eating them. 

Judging from their habits in captivity, they are to a consider- 
able extent nocturnal ; but they may be seen feeding outside 
of the grass in the early morning, and are not very shy, though 
when once flushed they much object to showing themselves 
again. They nest in Ceylon and in the Malay Peninsula as 
early as March, but further north in June and later, up to 
even the middle of August in the Sub-Himalayan tracts. The 
nest is the scanty affair one expects from a quail, and is placed 
among grass, containing about six eggs, buff or pale drab 
generally, somewhat peppered with brown. Considering the 
size of the producer, they are remarkably large, many being 
an inch in the larger diameter ; the incubation period is three 
weeks, and the minute chicks are dark with pale streaks. 

In Ceylon this pigmy quail is known as Pandura or Wenella- 
watuwa, and as Gohal-hutai in Oudh. Kaneli is also a Nepalese 


Turnix 'pugnax. Gundlu, Hindustani. 

This quaint little bird, which may be easily taken at first 
sight for a quail, is yet at once distinguishable from our true 
quails by having no hind-toe, which apphes to all the members of 
its family found with us. The said family is quite a distinct one, 
and the birds composing it are often called in books hemipodes — 


a silly name, because it means " half-foot" and only one toe out 
of the normal four is missing. Nevertheless, it is better than 
button-quail or bustard-quail, because the birds are neither 
quails nor bustards. The present species is the most widely 
distributed in our limits, being only absent from elevations over 
7,000 feet in the Himalayas, and from parts of the north-west ; 
for, though found in Cutch and Kajputana, it does not occur 
in Sind and the Punjab. It extends across the rest of Asia 
to Formosa, including the Malay Islands. Hume figures the 
Eastern race as distinct, but it is not now so considered ; it is 
merely larger and of a less reddish brown. 

It may be distinguished from the other and less widely 
distributed hemipodes by its bluish-grey beak and legs, which 
mark it off from the yellow-legged species, and by being barred 
with black on the breast, which distinguishes it from the 
little button-quail, which also has a blue beak and frequently blue 
legs also. The hen is larger than the cock, as in all this family, 
and also more strikingly coloured, having a black patch running 
down the throat and breast. 

This little bird has the general habits of the true quails, 
being found among grass and bush-cover, and avoiding high 
forest and arid tracts ; it also feeds on seeds, herbage, and 
insects. I suspect it is more insectivorous than quails proper, 
its larger bill enabling it to manage insects of bigger size ; it 
appears to care little for grain. Hume thinks that these 
hemipodes do not drink, but I have seen them do so in captivity, 
and the fact that they are not to be seen drinking when wild 
probably only means that they quench their thirst with dew 
instead of resorting to bodies of water for drinking purposes. 
Their more insectivorous habits — if I am right about these — 
would also probably imply greater independence of water, for 
it is animal-feeding birds which can generally best dispense 
with this, though among beasts the reverse holds good. 

These birds are generally solitary or at most in pairs, except 
when a brood of young is about ; they lie very close and fly only 
for a few yards at a time, after which they are almost impossible 
to raise again, and it takes a smart dog to get them up at all. 
Nevertheless, they migrate a little, but only according to circum- 


stances, to avoid cold in the hills or floods in the plains. Their 
disposition is quite different from that of the true quails, as they 
are singularly tame in captivity, instead of wildly nervous like 
nearly all true game birds ; and probably quails are serious 
enemies to them, as I have found that hemipodes of any sort, 
taken out of a dealer's crate of quails, are generally much plucked, 
just as the tiny blue- breasted quail is. This may perhaps be the 
reason why this bu'd frequents gardens so much. 

But the most remarkable point about this bird and its kin is 
the peculiar reversal of their sex relations. The hen, as we 
have seen, is the larger and finer bird ; she is also the fighter, 
and is constantly captured by the natives as a fighting-bird, the 
attraction being another female in a cage, while males are never 
so caught. So well is the distinction known that the two sexes 
have different names in more than one language, the cock in 
Telugu being Koladu, and the hen Piirecl, while in Tamil be is 
Anhadeh, and the hen Kurimg kadeh. In the Malay countries, 
too, the name of the bird, Pee-ijoo, is applied in contempt to 
a hen-pecked man, for the cock bustard quail not only does not 
fight, but makes the nest and sits on the eggs. The nest varies 
from a mere "scrape" to a proper though loose structure made 
of dry grass, and often domed over. It is commonly found in 
the Darjeeling tea gardens in May and June, but in the plains 
the breeding season is later, and extends to September in 
Burma. As, however, eggs have been taken in March at the 
south end of the Malay peninsula, the birds may breed here 
and there almost all the year. 

Only four eggs are laid, at any rate as a rule ; they are short, 
and may show a tendency to the "peg-top" shape; they are 
glossy and minutely peppered all over on a dirty-white ground, 
and generally blotched with larger markings as well ; they are 
about an inch long — i.e., large for the size of the bird — which is 
much smaller than a common quail. 

The note of the bird, chiefly given out by the hen, is a purring 
sound according to Mr. Seth Smith, who has studied the species 
in captivity, bat Hutton says, speaking of it in the Dun, that 
it has a pleasing, ringing note ; he also says it is brought in large 
numbers for sale, but this was not the case in Calcutta in my 


time, though the species is supposed to be common about there. 
It is a much nicer aviary bird — Hke all hemipodes — than the 
true quails, but of little interest to the sportsman, being 
scantily distributed and giving a very poor shot for a good 
deal of trouble. 

Besides the native names above mentioned, this bird is 
called Dunva at Katnagiri, Kare-haJii in Canarese, and Timok 
by the Lepchas. 

Indian Yellow-lcggcd Button-Quail. 

Turnix tanki* Pedda daha-gundlu, Telugu. 

The yellow-legged button-quail is easily distinguished from 
the bustard-quail by its yellow legs and bill, and, of course, from 
such of the true quails as are yellow-legged, by the absence of 
the hind toe. It agrees with the bustard-quail in the difference 
of size in the sexes and in the female being more richly coloured ; 
but the decoration is quite different, the female having a chest- 
nut collar instead of a black cravat, and this is not permanent, 
being only assumed during the breeding season. The back is 
less variegated in this species than the last, though young birds 
have more marking than adults, but the most conspicuous 
difference, besides the yellow bill and feet, is the absence of 
any bars on the breast. There is practically no difference in 
size between this particular yellow-legged race and the blue- 
legged hemipode. 

Although more numerous in India proper than the bustard- 
quail, and found in the North-west districts, where the other 
is absent, the yellow-legged bird does not go so high up in the 
Himalayas, my record of one caught by Mr. Goldstein at 
Darjeeling, in my book on " The Game Birds of India and Asia," 
being quite an exception, the usual limit of this bird's vertical 
range being 4,000 feet. As this was caught at night at light, 
it looks as if the bird were migrating, but it might have been 
a mere stray. This button-quail does not occur in Ceylon, and 

* jondera on plate. 











its eastern limit is the Naga Hills ; in Assam begins the range 
of the large Burmese race of this yellow-legged type. 

There is little to be said about the habits of this bird, which 
are much like those of the bustard-quail, but it affects drier 
localities, and does not come quite so much into cultivation on 
the whole ; moderately high grass is a pretty good place in which 
to look for it, and it is also found in grassy patches in forest 
clea-rings. Its flight is feebler and less whirring and noisy than 
the bustard-quail's, and it goes for even a shorter distance when 
flushed, dropping so quickly as scarcely to allow time for a shot, 
and lying so close afterwards that smart dogs may often pick 
it up. In captivity it shows an even tamer disposition than 
the blue-legged bird. The first pair the Zoo in London ever 
had, presented })y Mr. E. W. Harper, were so tame that I have 
poked my finger through and touched them as they sat at the 
side of the aviary. This bird lays four eggs, peppered and 
blotched like those of the bustard-quail, in a domed nest of grass. 

Mr. D. Seth Smith, now Bird Curator at the Zoo, has given, 
in the Avicultural Magazine for 1902-03, some very interest- 
ing details of the habits of this species as observed by him in 
the private aviary he then had. He successfully bred the birds, 
this being the first instance of any hemipode being bred in 
Britain; and found out about the seasonal change in the female's 
collar, and also that she gave any mealworms given her to her 
mate, thus showing that the moral reversal of the sexes in the 
hemipodes results in the hen being generous as well as quarrel- 
some. She did not, however, feed the chicks, and the male did 
everything for them as well as the sitting, which only lasted 
twelve days — a remarkably short period, for even a canary takes 
fourteen. In the aviary, which had a grassed outdoor enclosure, 
he noticed that the birds did not seem so much at home in the 
long grass itself as the painted quails, which made little tunnels 
in it and bolted down them, but preferred sandy spots with 
grass tufts here and there ; this is rather at variance with Indian 
experience of it as a grass bird, but Tickell says it is found, 
in Bengal at any rate, "in open, sandy, bushy places." The 
young were mottled rather than distinctly striped like the young 
of the true quails, and were very insectivorous, refusing at first 


all kinds of artificial food, which the young of the true game 
birds nevertheless eat readily. The note of the hen is " a soft 
booming sound, which is more or less ventriloquial " ; the male 
seldom calls, if at all, and all the bird utters when flushed in the 
wild state is a faint low double chirp. Tickell says this bird 
is most delicious eating, but Hume condemns it ; probably both 
are right, the difference depending on food. 

Burmese Yellow-legged Button-Quail. 

Turnix h la nfo rdi . '■' 

In Burma yellow-legged button-quails occur as in India, and 
the sportsman who pays attention to these little birds may 
notice that they are larger than the Indian birds of this type, 
if he has had opportunities for comparison. Young birds of both 
kinds have the same plumage, which is variable in details in 
both, but this eastern form does not lose the dark markings on 
the upper-parts with age to the same extent as the Indian 
specmiens, which incline decidedly to a uniform drab above. 

Although classed as a species, the distinction is very trifling, 
and of no interest to anyone except those naturalists who like 
niggling over local races ; there seems to be nothing special on 
record about the habits of the variety, which are not likely to 
differ in any important particular from those of the Indian 

The race, such as it is, extends into Assam and Chittagong, 
while in the other direction it is found in China and even in 
Eastern Siberia. 

Nicobar Yellow-legged Button-Quail. 

Turnix alhiventris. 

In the grassy parts of the Nicobars and Andamans is found 
another button-quail of the yellow-legged type, coming still 
nearer to the Indian typical form, and only distinguishable 
by its generally darker colour and more abundant markings 

* maculosa on plate. 




A A. fT 



above; even this distinction can only be properly appreciated 
in adults. As the Andamans are mostly under forest, there are 
few places in which this grass-haunting bird can live, and so it is 
little known there. 

Little Button-Quail; 

Turnix dussumieri. Dahki, Hindustani. 

This funny little midget, about the size of a sparrow, bears 
the same relation in size to the other hemipodes that the jack 
snipe does to the other snipe, and curiously enough is dis- 
tinguished in two other similar ways, in having a pointed tail 
and brighter-coloured plumage ; there is but little black in the 
upper plumage, and a good deal of straw-colour and bright 
chestnut, and the under-surface is pale and clear. The buff 
breast is plain in the centre, but along the sides of it are some 
round markings of black. The legs are usually white, but 
sometimes blue-grey like the bill. The characteristic superiority 
in size of the hen is not so striking in this species, and she has 
no distinctive decoration ; but the young are duller and more 
uniformly brown than the old birds. 

The little button-quail, which, I take it, is the button-quail, 
from the small size, is also the commonest of our species where 
it occurs, and it has a wide range over the Empire ; but it is 
not found at higher elevations than 6,000 feet, nor in Ceylon or 
the extreme south of India. To the drier portions of the country 
it appears only to come in the monsoon. It has the character- 
istic habits of hemipodes to perfection, sitting particularly close 
in the low cover it affects, and when raised taking an even 
shorter flight than the other species, so that it can hardly be 
shot ; while after this effort it sits so very tight that not only do 
dogs pick it up, but it has even been caught by hand. 

In disposition it is about the tamest bird in existence ; in a 
cage it will let one pick it up like a white mouse, and seems 
equally at home in close captivity, so that a pair of these tiny 
beings would make interesting pets for any one who likes birds, 
but can only find room for quite a small portable cage. In 
England they have even been known to lay in a cage, and at this 



time even threatened to charge the hand of their owner ! What 
such tiny things could do against anything bigger than a mouse 
or a locust is a problem, but evidently they are not wanting in 
pluck. They have been found to feed on grass-seed and white 
ants, and are to be seen in gardens as well as in the open 
country. They are often found on land which has been flooded 
during the rains. The nest, sometimes domed and sometimes 
open, may be found even as late as October, in some places, 
though breeding begins as early as April ; the eggs tend to be 
more numerous than in the larger species, for five and six may 
be found, though the usual hemipode clutch of four is more 
general. They are of the pointed peg-top shape, and show the 
typical dark peppering and spotting of the family ; but are not 
so much smaller than those of the larger button-quails, as would 
be expected — another point of resemblance to the jack-snipe. 
The note is described as a " plaintive moan " or " a mixture of a 
purr and a coo," the bird when calling raising its feathers and 
turning about like a courting pigeon. This tiny bird is the 
smallest of our game birds, but, like the tallest, the sarus crane, 
is rather a bird for the aviculturist than the sportsman ; if one 
wants to eat small birds, larks would be more worth shooting 
both for sport and for eating purposes. Besides the name Dabki, 
which means " squatter," this little bird rejoices in several others 
— Tiirra, Libbia and Ghimnaj, in Hindustani ; Telia dabbagimdlu 
in Telugu, and Darioi at Katnagiri. Yet we are told that 
natives, unless professional bird-catchers, generally consider it 
simply as a young quail of sorts, and certainly it has all the 
appearance of a young bird which ought to grow up into some- 
thing quite different. 

Nicobar Megapode. 

Megapodius nicobariensis. 

" Megapode " means big foot, and our single species, like 
Hercules, can be identified by its foot only, though, as it only 
inhabits the Nicobars, and the only other game-bird there is 
the local race of yellow-legged button-quail, which is neither big 
in body nor in foot, there is not much likelihood of anyone 
getting it often or mistaking it for anything else. 




The bird itself is about as big as a jungle hen, and has the 
sides of the head red and bare like a fowl's, but its very short 
tail gives it rather the appearance of a guinea-fowl. Its 
plumage is unique among our game-birds by its very dulness, 
there being not a single streak or spot to relieve its monotony of 
snuffy-brown. The sexes are alike, and even the chicks hardly 
differ except by having downy heads. It is about all they do 
have downy, for they come out of the egg full-fledged, as is the 
usual custom of birds of the megapode family; their habits are 
well known in Australia, where not only a similar bird to this, 
locally called "jungle-fowl," but others of more distinct and 
handsome appearance, the "brush-turkey " (Catheturus lathami), 
and " mallee-bird " (Leipoa ocellata) are found. The type, 
indeed, is an Australian one, but the typical Megapodius group 
ranges east and west among the islands, ours being the farthest 
outlier to the westward. 

The foot of the megapode has the hind-toe well developed, 
and furnished, like all the other toes, with a long, strong claw. 
It is thus better fitted for grasping than that of our other game- 
birds, and this power is employed by the bird in throwing up the 
great mounds in which its eggs are to be buried, for another 
queer habit of the family is to construct natural incubators for 
their eggs, which are of extraordinary size, in this species being 
as big as those of a goose, while the bird itself averages about a 
pound and a half in weight. Fresh eggs are ruddy pink, but 
they fade to buff as incubation advances, and also show white 
spots and streaks, caused by the colour, which is only a thin 
surface coating, getting chipped or scratched off. 

The mounds are almost invariably situated just where the 
jungle abuts on the coral beach, not in the open, and very 
rarely back in the forest. Forest mounds are necessarily made 
of leaves and sticks mixed with earth ; but evidently the proper 
compost, from the birds' point of view, is the coral sand of the 
beach, raked in a layer about a foot thick over a liberal founda- 
tion of leaves, cocoanut husks, and any sort of vegetable matter 
that these birds can lay their claws on. The same mounds are 
used again and again, the birds apparently scraping the top- 
dressing of sand off every now and then, putting on more 
vegetable refuse, and then raking the sand over again. 


In this way an old mound may, although the Nicobarese say 
it is all the work of one pair, attain a height of eight feet and a 
circumference of sixty ; but the mound of this size recorded 
by Davison as quoted by Hume was exceptional, and no doubt 
old, as it had a good-sized tree grov/ing in it; about half the 
above dimensions represent the usual size. 

In these mounds, at a depth of over a yard, the old bird 
buries her eggs, which hatch in the damp warmth generated 
by the decaying vegetation, aided no doubt by the lime in the 
coral and shell-sand. At the same time, the eggs will hatch 
when removed from the mound and left lying about anyhow ; 
the young need no " mothering," but look after themselves 
from the first, and might easily be taken for some funny sort 
of quail. It is most likely that the old birds dig them out 
when due to hatch, for burrowing up through several feet of 
compost would be rather a heavy task even for a megapode chick, 
and the brush-turkey, which frequently breeds in zoological 
gardens, certainly digs the young out when due — in its case after 
six weeks' incubation. 

The mound is thrown up at night — in fact, the bird is 
nocturnal altogether, and does not leave the shelter of the jungle 
in the day-time, while even at night it is the beach, and not the 
grass-land inland of the jungle-belt which it frequents. Although 
mostly a ground-bird, it often alights in a tree, and flies like 
a jungle-fowl. Its note is also like the cackling of a hen. These 
birds are a most valuable game-bird ; they are abundant, being 
found often in flocks as well as pairs, give much the same sort of 
sport as jungle-fowl, and are, according to Hume, who was very 
critical about birds' table qualities, exceptionally good on the 
table, being both fat and succulent. Their food appears to 
be mostly animal, consisting of grubs and small snails ; in 
captivity the young thrive on white ants. 

Since as many as twenty eggs can be taken out of a mound 
and the young are easily reared, the Government should surely be 
approached with a view to disseminating this valuable bird all over 
our tropical islands where natural conditions are at all favourable. 



^ ID 






Amheest Pheasant, 203 
Andamanese Banded Crake, 106 
Andaman Teal, 21 
Anderson's Silver Pheasant, l'J2 
Arakan Hill-Partridge, 245 
Argus, 167 

,, Crested, 170 
Armstrong's Yellowshanks, 101 

Bamboo-Partridge, 221 
Bar-headed Goose, 60 
Bar-tailed Godwit, 98 
Bean-Goose, 05 
Bewick's Swan, 71 
Black-backed Goose, 45 
Kalij, 187 
Black-bellied Sand-grouse, 150 
Black Partridge, 230 
Black-tailed Godwit, 96 
Black -throated Hill-Partridge, 246 
Blewitt's Painted Bush-Quail, 258 
Blue-breasted Banded Rail, 140 
Blue-winged Teal, 10 
Blyth's Tragopau, 212 
Brahminy Duck, 51 
Bronze-backed Monaul, 21G 
Bronze-capped Duck, 9 
Brown- breasted Hill-Partridge, 248 
Brown Crake, 112 
Burmese Prancolin, 234 
Peafowl, 161 
Sarus, 121 
,, Yellow-legged Button-Quail, 
Bush-Quail, Blewitt's, 258 

Hume's, 259 

Inglis's, 259 

Jungle, 253 

Painted, 256 

Rock, 255 
Bustard, European Great, 143 
,, Great Indian, 131 
„ Little, 141 
Bustard-Quail, 267 

Button-Quail, Burmese Yellow- legged, 
,, ,, Indian Yellow-legged, 

,, Little, 273 
,, ., Nicobar Yellow-legged, 


Ceylon Jungle-fowl, 176 

Spur-fowl, 182 
Charlton's Hill-Partridge, 250 
Cheer Pheasant, 198 
Chestnut Wood-Partridge, 252 
Chinese Crimson Tragopan, 208 
Chukor, 236 

Close-barred Sand-grouse, 155 
Clucking Teal, 18 
Comb-Duck, 45 
Common Crane, 122 

Hill-Partridge, 242 
Kalij, 183 
Pochard, 26 
Quail, 260 
,, Sand-grouse, 145 
„ Snipe, 75 
Teal, 14 
Cooluug, 129 
Coot, 114 
Corn-crake, 110 
Coroneted Sand-grouse, 152 
Cotton-Teal, 47 

Crake. Andamanese Banded, 106 
Banded, 105 
Brown, 112 
Corn, 110 

Eastern Baillon's, 108 
Elwes's, 111 
Little, 108 

Malayan Banded, 106 
Ruddy, 110 
Spotted, 107 
Whity-brown, 109 
Crane. Burmese Sarus, 121 
,, Common, 122 



Crane, Demoiselle, 129 

„ Hooded, 125 
Sarus, 117 

,. Wliitc, 127 
Crestloss Mouaul, 217 

Demoiselle Crane, 129 
Duck, Brahminy, 51 

Bronze-capped, 9 
Chinese Grey, G 
,, Comb-, 45 
,, .Alandarin, 49 
Pink-headed, 24 
Stiff-tailed, 37 
,, White-winged Wood, 54 
Dwarf Goose, 68 

Eared-Pheasant, 194 
Eastern Baillon's Crake, 108 

Francolin, 234 
European Golden Plover, 102 
., Great Bustard, 143 
Water- Rail, 103 

Fantail Snipe, 75 
Fire-back Pheasant, 193 
Florican, Common, 134 

,, Lesser, 13G 
Francolin, Common, 230 

,, Burmese, 234 

Eastern, 234 

,, Southern, 232 

Gadwall, 7 
Garganey, 16 
Godwit, Bar-tailed, 98 
Black-tailod, 97 
Snipe-billed, 99 
Golden-eye, 38 

,, Plover, Eastern, 101 

,, ,, European, 102 

Goosander, 42 
Goose, Bar-headed, 60 

,, Bean, 05 

Black-backed, 45 

,, Dwarf, G8 

,, Grey-lag, 63 

,, Pink-footed, 64 

,, Red-breasted, 69 

,, Sushkin's, 65 

,, White-f routed, 66 
Great Indian Bustard, 131 
Green-legged Hill Partridge, 249 
Green Peacock, 162 
Green-shank, 101 
Grceu-wingcd Teal, 14 

Grey Duck. Chinese, 6 
,, Goose, G2 
,, Jungle-fowl, 174 
,, Partridge, 226 
,, Peacock Pheasant, 164 
,, Quail, 260 

Hkmu'Odes, 267 
Hill-Partridge, Arakan, 245 

,, Black-throated, 246 

Blyth's, 244 
Brown-breasted, 248 
Charlton's, 250 
Common, 242 
,, Ferruginous, 252 

,, Green-legged, 249 

,, Malayan, 250 

,, Red-breasted, 247 

,, Rufous-throated, 244 

White-cheeked, 246 
Himalayan Snow-cock. 222 
Hooded Crane, 125 
Horsfield's Kalij, 188 
Houbara, 139 
Hume's Pheasant, 201 

Bush-Quail, 259 

Impeyan Pheasant, 214 
Indian Crimson Tragopan, 205 
Inglis's Bush-Quail, 259 

Jack-Snipe, 86 
Japanese Quail, 264 
Javan Peafowl, 163 
Jungle Bush-Quail, 253 
,, Fowl, Ceylon, 176 

,, Grey, 174 

„ Red, 171 

Kalij, Black-backed, 187 

,. Common, 183 

., Horsfield's, 188 

,, Lineated, 190 

,, Nepal, 185 

,, Purple, 188 

,, White-crested, 183 
Karkarra, 129 
Koklass Pheasant, 195 
Kora, 116 

Landrail, 110 

Large Pintailed Sand-grouse, 148 

„ Whistler, 58 
Lesser Florican, 138 
Likh, 136 
Lineated Kalij, 190 



Little Bustard, 14 
,, Button-Quail, 273 
,. Crake, 108 

Malayan Hill-Partridge, 250 

,, Peacock-pheasant, 167 
Mallard, 1 
Mandarin Duck, 49 
Slegapode, 274 
Merganser, Red-breasted, 44 
Monaul, 213 

,, Bronze-backed, 21G 

Crestless, 217 

Sclater's, 217 
Moorhen, 113 
Mountain Quail, 219 
Mrs. Hume's Pheasant, 201 
Mute Swan, 71 

Nepal Kalij, 185 
Nukta, 45 

Painted Bush-Quail, 256 
Partridge, 232 
Quail, 266 
Sand-grouse, 153 
Snipe, 93 
Spur- fowl, 180 
Partridge, Bamboo, 221 
Black, 230 
„ Chukor, 236 

Grey, 226 
,, Painted, 232 
,, Red-crested, 251 

„ Seesee, 238 

Snow-, 240 
,, Swamp, 228 
Tibetan, 239 
Peacock, Burmese, 161 
,, Common, 158 
Peacock Pheasant, Grey, 164 

,, Malayan, 167 

Peura, 242 

Pheasant, Amherst, 203 
Argus, 167 
Blood, 217 
Cheer, 198 
Eared-, 194 
Fire-back, 193 
Humes, 201 
Impeyan, 214 
Koklass, 195 
Peacock, Grey, 164 

,, Malayan, 167 
Silver, 192 

Pheasant, Stone's, 200 

,, Vermicellated, 190 
Pink- footed Goose, 64 
Pink-headed Duck, 24 
Pintail Duck, 10 

,, Sand-grouse, Large, 148 
,, Snipe, 79 
Pochard, Baer's, 30 

Common, 26 
,, Red-crested, 35 
Tufted, 32 
White-eyed, 28 
Porphyrio, 115 
Pukras, 195 
Purple Kalij, 188 

Quail, Bush-, 253-55 

,, Bustard-, 267 

,, Button-, 270-73 

,, Common, 260 

,, Grey, 260 

,, Japanese, 264 

,, Mountain, 219 

,, Painted, 266 

„ Rain-, 264 

Rail, Blue-breasted Banded, 104 
,, European Water-, 103 
,, Indian Water-, 103 
,, Land-, 110 
Rain-Quail, 264 
Ramchukar, 222 
Red Jungle-Fowl, 171 

,, Spur-Fowl, 179 
Red-breasted Goose, 69 

Hill-Partridge, 247 
, , , , Merganser, 44 

Red-crested Partridge, 251 

Pochard, 35 
Ruddy Crake, 110 

Sheldrake, 50 
Rufous-throated Hill-Partridge, 244 

Sand-grouse, Black-bellied, 150 
Close-barred, 155 
Common, 145 
Coroneted, 152 
Large pintailed, 148 
Painted, 153 
Spotted, 147 
Tibetan, 156 

Sarus Crane, 117 

Scaup, 34 

Sclater's Monaul, 217 

Seesee, 238 




Sljeldrakc, Common, 53 

Teal, rtreen-winged, 

,, Ruddy, 50 

„ l\[arbled, 20 

Shoveller, 12 

., Whistling, 56 

Silver Pheasant, 192 

Temminck's Tragopan, 208 

Small Whistler, 5G 

Tibetan Partridge, 239 

Smew, 40 

,, Sand-grouse, 157 

Snipe, Common, 75 

,, Snow-cock, 225 

,, Eastern Solitary, 

Tragopan, Blyth's, 212 

,, Fantail, 75 

,, Chinese Crimson, 208 

Jack, 86 

,, Indian Crimson, 205 

Painted, 93 

Temminck's. 208 

,, Pintail, 79 

Western, 210 

Swinhoe's, 82 

Tufted Pochard, 30 

,, Western Solitary, 84 

,, Wood, 88 

Vebmicellated Pheasant, 190 

Snow-cock, Himalayan, 222 

Tibetan, 225 

Water-cock, 116 

Snow-Partridge, 240 

Water-hen, White-breasted, 112 

Solitary Snipe, Eastern, 83 

Western Tragopan, 210 

„ ,, Western, 84 

Whistler, Large, 58 

Spotted-bill, 4 

„ Small, 56 

Spotted Crake, 107 

Whistling Teal, 56 

Spotted Sand-grouse, 147 

White-breasted Water-hen, 112 

Spur-fowl, Ceylon, 182 

White-crested Kalij, 183 

Painted, 180 

White-winged Wood-duck, 54 

Red, 179 

Whity- brown Crake, 109 

Stiff-tailed Duck, 37 

Whooper, 73 

Stone's Pheasant, 200 

Wigeon, 22 

Swamp-Partridge, 228 

Woodcock, 90 

Swan, Bewick's, 74 

Wood-Duck, White-winged, 54 

., Mute, 71 

Wood-Snipe, 88 

Whooper, 73 

Swinhoe's Snipe, 82 

Yellow-legged Button-Quail, Bur 

mese, 272 

Teal, Andaman, 21 

Yellow-legged Button-Quail, Indian, 

,, Blue-winged, IG 


,, Clucking, 18 

,, ,, )) >) Nicobar 

,, Common, 14 


,, Cotton, 47 

Yellow-nib, 6 

„ Falcated, 9 

Yellowshanks, Armstrong's, 101